Waste Management – history, current status and development towards a sustainable circular economy:
One of the central global tasks for the future is to supply national economies with raw materials and energy in a way that is sustainable from an economic, environmental and social viewpoint. The circular economy can and must make an important contribution in this regard. The positive ecological effects of avoiding, recycling and disposing of waste in an environmentally sound manner have been proven by numerous scientific studies. In Germany, the environmental service branch contributes significantly to resource and climate protection. For instance, it is the most successful sector with respect to reducing CO2 emissions as required by the Kyoto Agreement, i.e. compared to 1990. It should be noted that many positive effects are not even attributed to the waste management sector, but to energy or other industries to which the waste management sector provides secondary fuels and resources. However, self-criticism demands us to note that we, in Germany, are only at the beginning of a long road, regarding not only the “Energiewende” (“energy turnaround”), but also a „raw materials turnaround“. We are still far away from a real circular economy, with secondary raw materials making up less than 15 % of industry input!
Smart Bioenergy – the tasks in the sustainable energy system and the bioeconomy of the future:
Germany’s energy supply must change to renewable energies (RE) within the next two decades and the supply of organic raw materials to industry must shift as far as possible from petro-based to bio-based materials. In order to achieve climate neutrality – which Germany aims to do by 2045 already –, consistent energy saving efforts and a complete conversion to RE are required and, in addition, negative emissions must be generated. The material and energetic coupling and cascading use of biogenic resources is a central element of a climate-neutral society, and especially carbon and nutrient cycles must be closed to this end. This ambitious goal of long-term integration of biomass into a sustainable energy and bioeconomy system can only be achieved if biomass is used efficiently, in an environmentally sound manner and with the highest possible economic benefit (smart bioenergy). Today, bioenergy already holds a special position in the energy system. In 2020, it accounted for around 20 % of gross electricity generation from renewable energies and almost 90 % of both renewable heat and renewable transport fuels.