“With its very good facilities for incinerating hazardous waste, Germany is assuming a part of the general environmental responsibility,” says Environmental Minister Sigmar Gabriel from the Social Democrat Party (SPD). Gabriel argues that disposing of the waste in Germany is still safer than letting it be improperly deposited elsewhere or dumped into the sea. But in future, the Social Democrat would like to see the waste exporters build their own incinerators — ideally with technology made in Germany.
China — not noted for its environmental concerns until now — seems to want to realize Gabriel’s vision. Two up-to-date hazardous waste incinerating facilities will now be built in Beijing and in an industrial park in the northwest of the country — using German know-how.
Claudia Baitinger from BUND, the German chapter of Friends of the Earth, said the statistics hide some important facts.
Burning garbage remains a large waste of resources, even where it is used to generate power and heat for homes. “Resources are being squandered here,” she said, pointing out that the resources that are turned to fuel required energy to create in the first place.
“The hierarchy of waste management is still upside down,” said Baitinger. “Appeals are based on this order: prevention, reuse, recycling and at the very end disposal. In reality, it happens the other way around.”
She doubts the extent to which Germany is saving waste from landfill.