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Waste Treatment and Recycling Technology

To harness secondary resources, climate protection and energy sources

The Waste Treatment and Recycling Technology Association within VDMA attends to one of the oldest industries in the world. But the world is changing. Primarily, the main concern was the disposal of unwanted residual materials but a new understanding of the environment, limited natural resources, rising commodity prices and political dependencies of raw material suppliers led to a revision. Over the past 30 years, the waste management in Europe has developed into a recycling economy. Today, the industry is also seen as secondary raw materials management.

Secondary resources

Iron and non-iron metals, paper, wood, plastics or rare minerals are materials that are recovered of waste by using modern technologies. The Members of the European Union are leaders in recycling rates, thanks to waste treatment and recycling technology. The rate for paper is just under 70 percent. Today, 13 percent of the raw material needs of the German industry are covered by secondary resources, led by metallic materials.

Climate protection

Waste treatment and recycling technology contributes to climate protection in many aspects.
On one hand, less CO2 is emitted by the use and recovery of secondary resources, on the other hand, the emission of methane is avoided by the environmentally sound disposal of refrigeration equipment or the operation of landfills according to the state-of-the-art.
Plastics – with the exception of bio-based plastics – are produced from the limited resource petroleum. Recycling and energy recovery are technically sophisticated ways to achieve sustainable development. The use of one ton of recycled plastic saves 2.5 tons of CO2 and also conserves existing oil reserves.
Cooling devices in particular have a high climate damage potential due to the containing propellants when not disposed properly.
Just the proper treatment of a refrigerator avoids 2,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Additionally, the recycling of electrical and electronic equipment helps to obtain valuable secondary raw materials such as plastics and metals.

Energy sources

Everyone is talking about renewable energy sources. A part of those sources are waste-to-energy plants, especially biogas and landfill gas plants or waste incinerators. The portfolio is supplemented by plants manufacturing solid recovered fuels. Solid recovered fuels are widely used in the cement industry. The intelligent idea of waste-to-energy is that waste is generated all the time and therefore can be used wisely, also as a carbon-neutral energy source.

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