Germany's Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act 1996 has set new standards for trade and industry: In order to conserve natural resources, business establishments are required to accept product responsibility and adopt a graduated approach:
- Priority is to be given to avoiding waste.
- Where this is not possible, the waste is to be reused by recycling the materials or for generating energy (waste for recovery).
- Where recovery is not possible, waste is to be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner (waste for disposal).
In order to increase the recycling of wastes different ordinances on the management of products, like packaging, batteries or end of life vehicles, came into force: Ordinances on the management of municipal wastes of commercial origin; waste wood and underground waste disposal followed. The disposal of non recycable production wastes must be effected in compliance with high safety standards, which are subject to a monitoring procedure under waste legislation.
Since different types of waste contain different levels of pollutants, there are also various degrees of intensity for the monitoring of recovery or disposal. In other words the competent waste authority in Germany can regulate the nature and intensity of the monitoring depending on whether the waste is classified as:
- not subject to monitoring (for example domestic-type industrial waste; this is managed in the same way as domestic waste and is known as urban waste)
- subject to monitoring (for example old tyres, batteries, mixed building waste and demolition waste, sludge from in-plant wastewater treatment)
- subject to special monitoring (for example waste paints and varnishes containing halogenated solvents; batteries containing lead, nickel and cadmium; brake fluids; dyes, printing inks, adhesives and syntheticresins; fluorescent lamps; photochemicals; chlorinated machine, gear and lubricating oils).