Waste prevention, re-use, recycling, recovery, disposal: this is what is referred to as waste hierarchy, the foundation of waste management in Germany. In the past, waste management was merely about waste disposal, but it has since been recognised that waste is a valuable resource which can be used effectively to conserve natural resources.
Life is impossible without a sufficient supply of clean water. For example, water bodies provide drinking water for people, and process water for manufacturing goods. They are habitats for many plant and animal species and contribute to preserving biological diversity. It is therefore necessary to reconcile protection and use of water bodies as far as possible.
Thus far, the use of the world's oceans has been linked to the mistaken belief in an inexhaustible supply of resources and an unlimited capacity for regeneration. The consequences are high ecological risks and considerable negative impacts on the marine environment. As pollution of and processes in the oceans do not stop at political borders, successful marine environmental protection can only be achieved by means of intensive international cooperation at regional and global level.
Soil is an indispensable foundation of life for humans, animals and plants. It provides foodstuffs and raw materials, stores and filters water and decomposes contaminants. Damage cannot be remedied in the short term as fertile soils are the result of slow physical, chemical and biological processes: it takes 200 to 300 years for one centimetre of soil to build up.