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 one of three key strategies for a resource efficient Europe. However, the establishment of waste management as part of a sustainable resource management means nothing less than a profound transformation of one of the most important interfaces of the socio-industrial metabolism.

From a resource-based point of view, waste is to be avoided primarily, which also includes increased reuse of products and single components. Capacity for reparation and dismantling or the "upgrading" of second hand products is required, among others, by the European Waste Framework Directive, whereas appropriate policies, guidelines or indicators are still almost non existent.

Discharging of domestic waste
Discharging of domestic waste. Photo: Berthold Steinhilber / laif

Waste is not only recycled in order to reduce the amounts of residual waste to be disposed, but primarily to be directed back into the production process as input. Thereby they are competing with primary resources. A true circular economy should aim at avoiding the down cycling of raw materials contained in waste, amongst others things by developing resource-based target figures instead of solely weight-based ones. 

Therefore it is equally necessary to develop innovative approaches of a global waste resource management, which goes beyond a mere transfer of environmental burdens.

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


Dr. Henning Wilts

Tel.: +49 202 2492-290

Fax: +49 202 2492-138

Nadja von Gries

Tel.: +49 202 2492-247

Fax: +49 202 2492-138

Publi- cations

Here you find publications on waste and resource management.


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