German states struggle to find compromise on recycling construction materials
The introduction of a uniform system for recycling the vast volumes of construction waste is not making headway even after 15 years of negotiations between Germany's 16 states, Heike Holdinghausen writes for the newspaper Tageszeitung (taz). While a compromise seemed possible after six states had presented a draft law that would have facilitated the recycling and second-hand use of bricks, tiles, steel, glass and other construction materials in early November, the planned regulation could now be "reviewed from scratch," she writes. Germany produces about 220 million tonnes of construction waste per year, both as a by-product of material construction and as debris after building and infrastructure demolition, which make up about half of the country's total waste volume, but nationwide standards how these materials should be treated are lacking, the article says. Raw material industry lobby groups have welcomed the "pragmatic" proposal, whereas the construction industry warned against rising costs. Differing views between the federal government and the states would ultimately lead to a delay in the legislative process that might well stretch into the next legislative period.
Improving recycling quotas and pursuing a shift towards a more circular economy is seen as a prerequisite for achieving emissions reduction and other environmental targets in Germany and in Europe as a whole. Better recycling of building materials in particular can contribute to reducing the sector's climate impact, a 2019 study on the "grey energy" potential resting in reusable materials found.