With increasing ecological awareness, a strong demand for modern, customised recycling and waste management technologies and an advanced waste management infrastructure has developed in many countries. This is why German companies in the circular economy and waste management sector not only target European and OECD markets but are also increasingly interested in the markets of emerging economies and developing countries. To strengthen the export of innovative technologies and the transfer of know-how and to mutually support each other, a number of German recycling and waste management companies founded the "German RETech Partnership" association in 2011.
Over the past 20 years Germany's circular economy and waste management sector has developed along very innovative lines in terms of both technology and organisation. German legislation was instrumental in accelerating this process. The Circular Economy Act, product regulations such as those governing packaging, end-of-life vehicles, batteries and electrical equipment, as well as the legal provisions of 2005 stipulating the treatment of municipal waste prior to landfilling have brought about efficient and extremely reliable waste management and recycling technologies. Notable examples are separate collection and sorting of waste, thermal treatment including energy recovery, mechanical-biological treatment and fermentation processes for biowaste.
With their products and technological solutions German companies have helped ensure that waste management in Germany meets very high technical and environmental standards. This state-of-the-art is now also becoming more established in Europe and beyond – for instance through the Industrial Emissions Directive.
The German Recycling Technologies and Waste Management Partnership e. V. (RETech) developed from the Federal Environment Ministry's 2007 Export Initiative Recycling and Efficiency Technologies and was established in late 2011. RETech focuses on support for the international application of sustainable environmental technologies made by German companies. RETech serves as a contact point for all public and private organisations and institutions in Germany and abroad that are interested in German recycling and efficiency technologies. It also provides a platform for businesses, institutions and consultants considering international activities. REtech is also intended to be:
- a key player which supports the long-term strategy of the German government;
- an important contact for the government ministries working in the field of the circular economy;
- a multiplier for the information flow from the federal ministries to the companies concerned.
RETech has a range of working groups that deal with regional aspects and specific projects. The regional working groups are:
- regional working group CIS
- regional working group South-East Europe
- regional working group Middle East
- regional working group emerging and developing countries
- regional working group China.
There are also two technical working groups to address fundamental issues of waste management and export promotion. One focuses on household waste and one on financing.
RETech's work is accompanied by an advisory board made up of representatives from the BMUB, BMWi, BMZ, GTAI, UBA, GIZ, KfW as well as the associations BDE, bvse, VKU, VAK and VDMA.