From Waste to a Sustainable Resource Management

The European Commission identifies the transition process to a circular economy and the treatment of "waste as a resource" as a key strategy for a resource efficient Europe. However, establishing waste management as part of a sustainable resource management framework means profoundly transforming one of the most important interfaces of socio-industrial metabolism.

From a resource-based perspective, waste is first and foremost to be avoided, which also includes increased reuse of products and single components. Repair and dismantling or the "upgrading" of second-hand products is required by the European Waste Framework Directive, for example. However, appropriate policies, guidelines, and indicators are still almost non-existent.

Waste separation
Sorting at source can substantially support the recovery of waste.

Waste is not only recycled to reduce the amount of disposal; its primary aim is to supply the production process with inputs for further production. "Waste" thus competes with primary resources. A true circular economy should aim at avoiding the downcycling of raw materials contained in waste, in particular by developing resource-based targets instead of solely weight-based ones. This will require innovative approaches to global resource management for waste that go beyond a mere transfer of environmental burdens.

The Wuppertal Institute develops strategies and concepts for a low-waste, resource-efficient society. The socio-economic, technical, and institutional challenges this entails are analysed and innovative approaches are developed and realised in cooperation with practice partners. Key areas include the development and evaluation of national waste prevention programmes, the optimisation of individual material flows (platinum group metals, copper, plastics), and the further development of concepts of extended producer responsibility concepts (waste electrical and electronic equipment, end-of-life vehicles).

Publi-cations

Here you find publications on waste and resource management.

Related publications

Overcoming Information Asymmetry in the Plastics Value Chain with Digital Product Passports

How Decentralised Identifiers and Verifiable Credentials Can Enable a Circular Cconomy for Plastics


Zeit für den Kurswechsel: hin zu einer klimagerechten ressourcenleichten Gesellschaft

Beitrag für die politische Debatte im Wahljahr 2021


Der Digitale Produktpass als Politik-Konzept

Kurzstudie im Rahmen der Umweltpolitischen Digitalagenda des Bundesministeriums für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit


Digital Eco-Innovation as a Means to Reach a Circular Economy in Europe

New Biennial Eco-innovation Observatory Report draws attention to digital circular policies and technologies


Understanding the Transformation Processes in Heavy Industry

Report of the REINVENT project published


Preventing Plastic Waste

New waste report lists measures to avoid plastic waste


Product Reuse is the Key to Waste Prevention

New EEA-report out now


Prevention of Hazardous Waste in Europe

Report published with Henning Wilts as lead author


National Policies for Resource Efficiency and Waste Management

Structures, impacts, and deficits


A New SAPIENS Issue Is Online

With special topic Resource Efficiency


Waste to Energy

Book on energy-from-waste approaches


Waste Prevention: Study Identifies Suitable Measures for National Programme

Federal Environment Agency publishes report for download


Environmental Implications and Costs of Municipal Solid Waste-Derived Ethylene

Article in the Journal of Industrial Ecology


Projects

Here you find research activities in the field of waste and sustainable resource management.

Related projects

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