Editor`s Blog

Margin Notes on Sustainable Waste and Resource Management

Here in the Editor's Blog you can find statements on waste and resource management as they are written in loose sequence from the WtERT committees as well as from the representatives of the countries. Involved in the daily business, our editors comment on current developments or try to clarify the local situation.

If provocation is involved and established self-evident facts are questioned, this is intended or owed to the topic. You are cordially invited to contradict, to pursue the idea further or to pour out your heart with a look at completely different aspects of our world. We will gladly print your contribution.



BIG Change in Communication

The possibilities for counteracting climate heating are generally underestimated.

Waste management that completely avoids landfilling organic waste, reduces greenhouse gas emissions for an entire country by up to 30% - and thus is truly sustainable.

This can only be achieved through the simultaneous use of both major mechanisms of waste management:  recycling (including composting and fermentation) and energy recovery (simply called waste incineration).

The EU statistics plus the figures for other selected countries show unequivocally that the countries on the left (Switzerland to Luxembourg) use a mix of recycling and incineration to overcome the landfilling of waste contaminated with organics.  They set the benchmark for reducing greenhouse gases when dealing with waste.  All other countries may and should measure themselves against this example.

The next group of countries, in the chart from Norway to Poland, are well on the way in their development of waste management.  However, landfills are still open here.

The chart shows that none of the countries without landfills has managed to do so without a significant share of energy recovery of at least 40%.

As long as industry continues to produce more and more highly complex composite materials and overwhelms us with non-recyclable packaging, the same will be true in the future and for all other countries:  Without elimination of the organic fraction of waste, which is practically only possible and sensible through thermal recycling, countries will continue to emit high amounts of greenhouse gases from open landfills despite veritable recycling shares.

Many environmental organizations unilaterally communicate the benefits of recycling and fail to recognize the dangers of open dumping.  They refer to EU laws and regulations that call for increasing recycling rates in precise intermediate steps.  Landfilling of household waste, on the other hand, does not have to be limited to 10% until 2035.  There are no interim targets or consequences for non-compliance.  The options to extend this deadline or simply overlook it are simple.

Those who do not know the connections between landfilling and greenhouse gases are therefore planning in the sense of the EU but not in the sense of climate protection.
We need a change in communication:  a big change that takes to heart the multi-layered approaches to dealing with waste and values, that explains Reduce, Reuse, Recycle just as well as the possibilities of energy generation.  We need communication without dogmas and fighting statements, but also without protection zones for production and trade, because the responsibility for waste avoidance does not only lie with the individual.

WtERT provides the platform and promotes this BIG Change in Communication!  Visit us at the IFAT at the WtERT booth 125/224 in hall A6 and feel free to discuss with us.  Between Tuesday, May 31st and Thursday, June 2nd we will be presenting how we can bring together the essence of a sustainable circular society.  And also what we can contribute specifically.


The Future of the World Depends on How Openly We Work Together - WtERT Network Represented at IFAT 2022

Open collaboration across diverse regions, countries and continents only works with full recognition and appreciation between all participants.  This diversity of ideas and solutions in waste management is represented by the WtERT Network.
Visit us from May 30th to June 3rd at the IFAT, the World´s Leading Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Management, taking place at the Trade Fair in Munich, Germany.  See for yourself how a respectful coexistence of ideas and impulses complements each other to create a sustainable circular economy.  That we are thinking about the climate and thus emphasize all approaches of energy recovery explains our name.

IFAT is a great opportunity to see for yourself that we focus on research technologies and methods. 

Visit us in Hall A6 Booth No. 125/224 to talk with us and discover means of cooperation. We would be glad to welcome you and discuss pressing topics of waste management and possible solutions to existing problems!

Kind regards, 
Hedwig Vielreicher
Director WtERT Germany


Relaunch in Progress - Next Step

New WtERT net is coming. Easier, faster, more responsive, and intuitive.
Please check again your profile, so that you can be found by the correct tags and country assignment.
And do not forget to be amazed by our case studies about the upcoming Circular Society.
Best regards
Werner Bauer, VP GWC


Let‘s talk about responsibility – even in times of war!

A landfill operator has the obligation to ensure that waste is safely deposited, and air and water emissions are minimized; a landfill is not responsible for the community choice to send their wastes to a landfill.
 A waste to energy (WTE) plant operator is responsible for the energy and material recovery from post-recycling wastes; the community is responsible for source-separation of recyclables before the urban wastes are sent to the WTE plant.
People should be free to do and consume what they want, but it is their responsibility to do so in full awareness of the environmental impacts.
States have the obligation to tame the greed of companies and to establish tax and steering systems, making sustainable behavior worthwhile.
States also have the responsibility to balance economy, ecology with the concerns of the people and to maintain harmonious relationships with other states.
Our hearts are with the many deaths and much suffering in the Ukraine and we strongly condemn this war. It is deeply regrettable and another tragedy of humanity that in this conflict*) between East and West, a peaceful solution was not found.
In deep concern
Werner Bauer, VP Strategic GWC
for the WtERT Management Team  
*) please also read Henry Kissinger in Washington Post


Sustainable 2022

In combination with the obvious need to transform our society, we are hearing the word "sustainable" more and more. But what is sustainable? What is sustainable waste management?

September 2015, 193 UN member states unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 in New York: This fantastic departure into a shared future established 17 sustainability goals to guide countries' decisions in the years ahead.

What this can mean for municipal waste management is illustrated in the "Sector Guide to the German Sustainability Code" (VKU Verlag GmbH, May 2016). I love this work, even if it is a bit complicated. The guide defines ten essential aspects for municipal waste management companies and municipal cleaning services:
Transparency, Closing Material Cycles, Climate and Environmental Protection, Urban Cleanliness, Waste Avoidance and Customer Orientation. As well as the overarching themes: Economic Performance, Compliance, Employee Orientation and the Transformation Role of the Sector.

Sustainability is a very comprehensive sociopolitical concept. No organization can address all the requirements of sustainable action in equal measure. It is therefore crucial to identify the essential fields of action in which responsibility can be lived.

In a region where it is common to simply throw everything away, local waste management will focus on "urban cleanliness" and try to build awareness among the population in dealing with waste. (Read more)

In a country that predominantly relies on landfilling, local waste management will focus on "climate and environmental protection" and focus on thermal recycling of the waste arriving at the landfill. (Read more)

In sectors that only pretend to be climate oriented, the transformation role of the responsible organization is required. Here, "Transparency" and "Closing Material Cycles" are required. (Read more)

In any case, responsibility goes hand in hand with an honest analysis of what is. Those who demand 100% recycling should realize that at most half of our goods can be recycled. Those who cling to cheap landfilling must realize that this kind of disposal is extremely harmful to the climate. Those who call for waste avoidance are only right if they are equally concerned about the waste that is not avoided.
In 2022, let's look with interest at all the ways of dealing with waste and recyclables and examine which fits best in each region.

I would be pleased to see as many of you as possible at the next opportunity and I remain with best regards.
Yours, Werner Bauer
Vice President GWC
Last but not least, I would like to recommend the "Memorandum to the IESP Workshop, Sustainability Post Corona” 


Sustainable circular economy needs credibility

Credibility means 
- Acknowledging the need to reduce our waste madness and that the demand for "Less waste!" is a top priority. 
and also
- to recognize the need for waste incineration, which we urgently need as a pollutant sink for the many non-recyclable wastes everywhere.

A good waste incineration plant with a high quality of exhaust gas cleaning and energy utilization - i.e. a waste-to-energy plant - is expensive enough. Those who deliberately want to make it even more expensive by participating in the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) are overlooking the fact that thermal recycling will then remain too expensive for many countries. If thermal recycling is included in the EU ETS, power plant operators would have to buy emission allowances for every ton of CO2 they emit when thermally treating household, commercial and industrial waste. These additional costs of incineration would lead even more than before to residual materials from recycling being exported to diffuse sources and - as is so often the case - ultimately ending up there in the sea.

My wish for the end of this year is that the split between material and energy recycling will finally end and that as many stakeholders as possible will see all possible solutions for a sustainable circular economy. Loosely based on Thomas Hobbes, "Real knowledge does not come from reading books, but from observing reality."

The cover picture of the newsletter is a good example of this; the waste management company in Munich (AWM) promotes waste avoidance and then drives the remaining waste to the waste-fueled combined heat and power plant of the city of Munich.

Wishing you a peaceful New Year
Yours, Werner Bauer


Getting the Job Done: U.S. Actions to Reduce Methane Emissions


By changing our eating habits and the way we deal with waste, we can do something to counter the climate crisis. More than 80 countries joined an initiative of the USA and the EU in Glasgow.
The USA is focusing on the "U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan”, "on cutting pollution here at home from the largest sources of methane emissions in the United States.”  The Action Plan includes a number of critical and commonsense steps to tackle methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, which currently represents the largest source of industrial emissions of methane:
From the European point of view, agriculture is the largest source of methane. The countries (of the EU) can change this by introducing other grant conditions for agriculture (livestock, taxation, ...). By reducing the consumption of meat, we can all act ourselves immediately.

The U.S. Action Plan also takes aim at methane emissions from landfills—the second largest industrial source of methane:

• Building on efforts earlier this year to put in place an enforceable federal backstop plan to ensure emissions reductions from large municipal landfills, EPA is ramping up an initiative to reduce the food loss and waste that serves as a major contributor to landfill methane emissions. 

• EPA is also boosting its voluntary landfill methane outreach program to achieve a national goal of 70% methane emissions capture for all landfills around the country.

A great plan to address all the tools of the Circular Society. Let's work together!

Yours, Werner Bauer


The "Moment of Truth" to Ensure the Survival of Mankind

Ahead of this weekend's climate conference in Glasgow, EU countries are divided over their energy and environmental policies. Now comes the "Moment of Truth", said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, "It is a matter of the survival of mankind" and that it is our ambition to reduce emissions before the end of this decade.1) 

In the circular economy, it will be especially relevant for our future how the rules on transboundary shipments will be phrased.  According to EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, companies exporting waste from the EU will have to shoulder additional responsibility. His proposal states that "the export of waste from the EU will be largely banned and will only be allowed if the country of destination is proven to be ready to receive the waste and it has the necessary treatment capacities."2) He stressed that the amount of plastic waste has increased by 75% since 2004.  "We should not lie to ourselves that we can recycle our way out of this situation.”

I hope that by treatment capacities we also mean capacities for energy recovery, because otherwise – as has been the case up to now – leftovers from the recycling plants will find their way back into the sea.

Fortunately, further organisations are now calling for the closure of landfills and stressing the importance of waste incineration.3)
- EU-wide landfill ban for untreated municipal waste, shortening of transitional regulations
- Promotion of thermal waste treatment to ensure proper disposal and energetic use of non-recyclable waste fractions

The waste-to-energy sector still discusses about Circular Economy, GHG emissions, sustainable treatments for non-recyclable waste, and EU Taxonomy.

Yours, Werner Bauer
P.S. The per capita CO2 emissions of many industrialised countries that still rely on landfilling - Australia (14.6 tons), Canada (13.8 tons) and the USA (13.0 tons) in 2020 - could be significantly reduced by consistently closing landfills. 4)

1) Source: taz of 28.10.2021
2) Source: EUWID Recycling of 5.10.21
3) Source: DGAW position paper of 2021.10.22: Demands to the traffic light coalition on the circular economy
4) Source: www.statista.com


The year of 2021 is an environmentally active year for Turkey.

Within the scope of the Zero Waste project, which was initiated by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization in 2017, institutions have been integrated in the determined application method. With this, it is planned to establish integrated solid waste disposal facilities throughout the country by the end of 2023 and to dispose of 100% of the municipal wastes there. In parallel with this project, the construction of Turkey's largest waste-to-energy power plant continues in Istanbul. This power plant, which will have an installation capacity of 77 MW, will annually dispose of 1 million tons of waste, which corresponds to 15% of Istanbul’s solid waste.
In addition, Zeytinburnu Municipality, a district municipality of Istanbul, has started a program to ensure waste recycling. This program allows citizens who bring their recyclable waste to a mobile waste recovery vehicle gains points and use these points for shopping. Finally, last July, Turkey has decided to stop importing plastic waste from the European Union, and took a step towards improving its environmental quality. All of these steps move the country towards reaching Zero Waste project goals.  

So far, in 2021, negativity in terms of environment was the mucilage occurrence the Marmara Sea in the country. Ever since its observance on the sea, the mucilage has been collected from the surface by using various maritime techniques in about a month, while various reports have been published from universities on the disposal of mucilage, emphasizing the need to be more sensitive in the processes which are carried out in waste treatment plants.
In conclusion, it can be said that it is pleasing to mention about positive steps have been taken in terms of environmental sensitivity and development in Turkey in recent months.

Best regards,
Head of WtERT Turkey


Once again, recycling and energy recovery must go together for sustainability – The MatER & Final Sinks Meeting 2021.

The fifth edition of the MatER meeting that took place on 7-9 June has confirmed once more the inexorable need of both recycling and energy recovery on the road toward sustainability. 

The 2021 edition has been peculiar not only because it was held online, but especially because the MatER event was merged with the 6th Conference on Final Sinks, an alliance that has expanded the breadth of the meeting and enhanced the quality of the presentations and the ensuing debates.

Holding the meeting online was the dear price to be paid to the pandemic. An arrangement that didn’t hit attendance nor the effectiveness of the presentations, but that everyone at MatER hopes will remain a unique occurrence. Because at MatER we trust that not only is social interaction vital for an enjoyable life, but it is crucial to breed ideas and conceive effective actions towards a more sustainable future.

The sorrow ensuing from the cancellation of social events has been healed by the pleasure of the fruitful interaction with the Final Sinks community - a link that we hope can continue – in presence ! – in the 2023 edition.

The presentations given at the meeting have covered a wide spectrum of issues relevant to the sustainability of waste management and offered quantitative updates on a number of virtuous examples: from anaerobic digestion to the optimization of waste collection; from the recovery of bioplastic to the monitoring of mercury emissions from Energy from Waste (EfW) plants; from the recovery of EfW ashes to the carbonization of organic fractions generated by MBT; from waste-to-gas and waste-to-methanol to the end-of-life of electric equipment and batteries. On top of all this, intriguing theoretical speculations on performance indicators for the quality of recycling and the quality of LCA analyses.

Amidst all this, three pervasive messages. 

1) Waste management and waste treatment are the focus of a large, diversified community of researchers, which can provide the knowledge and the vision to dramatically improve the way we handle waste today. 

2) The way toward sustainability comprises two paths interconnected by many crossroads: one path is recycling, the other is energy recovery – and the crossroads are the synergies between material and energy recovery. 

3) Sustainable waste management is inherently multidisciplinary: the combined contribution of scientists, engineers, designers, planners, administrators, communicators is essential to do the job.

Stefano Consonni
Head of WtERT Italy and Co-Director of MatER (Material & Energy from Refuse)


Environmental Technology, a Global Megatrend

"...What German green-tech companies are achieving is not only good for the environment, but also makes our economy stronger and more resilient to crises. That is why clear and reliable overall conditions for environmental protection are at the same time also a far-sighted economic policy..." Svenja Schulze, German Environment Minister at the presentation of the "Green-Tech Atlas 2021". In view of 392 billion euros in sales by environmental technology companies with a population of 83 million, German environmental technology is considered a pioneering example of ecological transformation of the economy and society. The German waste disposal and recycling industry alone generates (figures from 2009) annual sales of approx. 40 billion euros with around 250,000 employees. In viewing these figures - why are many countries so intolerably hesitant when it comes to protecting a healthy environment? 

Especially in times of the pandemic, it became clear that it was imperative to maintain the collection of waste. The entire industry was and still is considered systemically relevant, since, in addition to the reliability of waste disposal, the circular economy was recognized as an essential part of secondary raw material procurement. Plants for both material and thermal recycling (material and energy recovery) are operating at full capacity. Just as there are valid reasons for companies to integrate the principle of sustainability into their business models, it is also relevant for countries that still predominantly landfill their waste to recognize the blessing of the circular economy.

The virus - which is still ravaging much of the planet - reminds us of how vulnerable supply chains and efficiency-driven economies are in our closely networked, global world. In addition to the suffering and dying that continue to be seen as viruses and diseases spread rapidly, it has also became clear how vulnerable supply and disposal structures are when masses of employees become ill.

Which areas of the industry will grow - which will shrink? 
The study mentioned above assumes a global market volume of the green-tech industry of around 9,400 billion euros for 2030, which roughly corresponds to an annual growth of the global market for environmental technologies of more than 7 percent. It is time in particular for emerging economies to recognize the opportunities of a circular economy.
More than anything else, I wish you health for you personally and for your environment.
Werner Bauer 
Vice President of Global WtERT Council


Deposit on Fishing Nets

Thanks to the EU, as of January 01, 2021 stricter regulations apply to plastic waste exports from the EU.  Unsorted or contaminated plastic mixtures may no longer be traded internationally.  The reason for this is that this waste is difficult to recycle and thus often ends up illegally in the environment.  Therefore, only clean and well-sorted plastic waste may be traded. 

In my opinion this is not enough: For any non-recyclable rest (as in every processing plant), a thermal recovery is needed.  I believe a complete waste management (material AND thermal recovery) should be a condition for all countries with which EU companies trade plastic fractions. If this is not specified, residual waste from processing inevitably ends up in rivers and the ocean.

Too much waste ends up in the ocean:

Ocean Conservancy writes in its Report "Pandemic Pollution: The Rising Tide of Plastic PPE”, March 2021.  "The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the use of certain types of plastic products. This includes personal protective equipment (PPE), but also single-use plastic bags, food, and beverage containers and other single-use plastics that can harm our communities and the ocean and present waste management challenges.”  "Data collected by Ocean Conservancy and its global ICC partner network suggest that PPE is making its way into our environment in vast quantities.  Volunteers removed 107,219 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) from beaches and waterways worldwide in second half of 2020."

Pollution, climate change, and overfishing significantly threaten marine life.  Even if the figures vary between 46% (Seaspiracy, Netflix) and 10% (Greenpeace), the discarding of fishing nets is a substantial part of this marine pollution.  Please let me know if any large-scale measures or legislative initiatives have already been introduced in this regard. From my point of view, a mandatory deposit on fishing nets could quickly remedy the situation.  After all, only if it is worthwhile to salvage and return a broken net will it not remain in the sea. 

Anyone who understands producer liability as one of the basic principles of the Circular Economy and is interested in finding a solution must include this.

Werner Bauer 
Vice President of Global WtERT Council


How to work together

With last year´s new sanitation law, Brazil is well on its way to overcoming landfilling.  What a fantastic concept!  Have a look at the statement of WtERT Brazil`s president Yuri Schmitke to read how relevant this is for the development of waste-to-energy plants in major cities in Brazil.  For the people, the municipalities, and all small and big waste management businesses the future task for the collaboration with WtERT Brazil and the global WtERT Network is to overcome landfilling.

The mission of this collaboration is to bring all experts together to change Brazil´s waste and living situation for the better.  Let us all be inspired and share case studies from around the world referring to material and energy recovery, to new ideas of sampling and collecting and even bring in all the power of zero waste initiatives. 

Now - to find new ways to deal with 36 million tons of waste per year, 36 million tons that today are still deposited in Brazilian landfills, is a huge task that all the actors in Brazil and the international community only can master together.  This collaboration with WtERT Brazil is also a call for national and international experts, science, companies, municipalities, governmental and non-governmental organizations to contribute what they know about various and complementary means of waste disposal in regard to material AND energy recovery, i.e. Zero waste concepts and experiences about appropriate ways to collect what is left, plastic recycling, composting plants, fermentation plants and power plants as well as landfill remediation. 

Our vision for Brazil´s future is jointly dancing samba on closed landfills and the certainty that the people from the informal sector have found jobs in a new circular society.

By Yuri Schmitke A. Belchior Tisi, President of WtERT Brazil
Rubens Herbert Aebi, Vice President of WtERT Brazil 
Werner Bauer Vice President of Global WtERT Council 


Friends of WtERT – Welcome to 2021, USA – Welcome back in the Paris Agreement

After this past year of fear and uncertainty, I welcome you back to WtERT`s monthly newsletter.  I hope that you, your families, friends and colleagues are all healthy and well.

2021 will be the year of change and transformation. 

After this week´s inauguration of Joe Biden as president of the United States, but at the latest after day-one with his first 17 actions, this is my firm conviction. As reported by Vox.com "Biden will rejoin the Paris Agreement, an international treaty binding countries to combat global warming.” With the Executive Order from January 20: "Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.”, it seems that light is coming back to America.

I was deeply impressed yesterday by the 22-year old Award-winning poet, Amanda Gorman, reciting her Inaugural poem, "The Hill We Climb”.

She ends with the words

When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
If only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

Now it is up to us to use the time to promote sustainable resource management and to work with Material AND Energy Recovery, overcoming greenhouse gas emitting landfills.

Let's stand together and expand the sharing community for the benefit of our environment.
With kind regards from the international WtERT team,

Werner Bauer
VP GWC, General Manager WtERT Germany 


Season´s Greetings

Dear members and friends of the Global WtERT Council (GWC),

This year has been one of terrible loss and suffering but it can also be a harbinger of things that humanity can do to improve health quality, in general, and quality of life for the less fortunate of us, in particular.

WtERT is concerned with one of the least glamorous human activities, how to manage the residues of society sustainably, that is with least possible adverse effect on environmental resources. To achieve this goal, we bring together academic and industrial partners who pool their collective knowledge and disseminate this information globally by means of the web, publications, and conferences.

Despite the setback of the 2020 pandemic, WtERT has made progress this year, thanks to the efforts of the webpage www.wtert.net developed by WtERT-Germany and, also, adding to our ranks three more national sister organizations: Canada, Morocco, and Turkey. A lot of progress has been made in China as exemplified by over four hundred state-of-art waste to energy plants and the launching of the new journal Waste Disposal and Renewable Energy

This year, the management of GWC has put together a blueprint for the future of our organization. It will be distributed before year-end to managers of the WtERT sister organizations, for review and comment.

Looking forward to seeing as many as possible of you, at the next face-to-face meeting of WtERT members, to be announced as soon as the pandemic has officially ended and international travel is again possible.

Prof. Nickolas J. Themelis,
Chair GWC


Waste Reduction and Final Disposal

During the EWWR, the European Week for Waste Reduction, which took place this November, a multitude of inspiring ideas and over 10,600 actions to Reuse, Reduce and Recycle were presented. This year´s topic has been invisible waste. A lot of interesting material can be downloaded and everyone is asked to use and spread it to enhance the effects!
Still, the great problem of final disposal of solid waste remains. This problem and possible solutions are being addressed at the III Pan American Waste to Energy 2020 Conference in Medellin, Colombia (as well as virtual), which will start tomorrow (December 2, 2020) at 7:30 a.m. Colombian time. 

The conference has been organized by the Antioquia Society of Engineers and Architects and WtERT Colombia. Besides other experts, Professor Nickolas Themelis, President of Global WtERT Council, and many other WtERT representatives from Colombia, the USA, Brazil, Germany, etc. will be contributing their presentations. If you are interested, join the conference

Warm regards, 
Hedwig Vielreicher
Director WtERT Germany GmbH 


Vision [vɪ.ʒ(ə)n]

In dictionaries, the term vision has various meanings.  On the one hand, it can refer to a religious experience or a hallucination, on the other hand, it defines the ability to imagine how something could develop and forms a trend-setting, renewing image of the future. 

If „Zero Waste" is your vision and you want to make it your objective, it is particularly important to clearly define the possibilities and limits. 

In guiding principles for Zero Waste Cities, one can sometimes read: „Zero Waste means sending next to nothing to landfills and incinerators”.  From my background, two things are wrong here.  These are the "next to nothing” and the equalization of "landfill and incinerators”.  For a final sink both are necessary - landfill for poison inert waste and an incineration plant for combustible waste that cannot be used for further material recycling.  

That is why our WtERT Decision Support System focuses on the claim "Material AND Energy Recovery”.  It is the "AND” that is important.  This "AND” includes Zero Waste Strategies which entail the importance of final sinks.  Otherwise, zero waste would be a hallucination.  In my belief, this would be a shame. 

Therefore, please be honest in your waste management strategies and be aware that it is necessary to reduce and/or to reuse waste wherever and whenever possible.

Werner Bauer
General Manager WtERT Germany GmbH


Broken glass everywhere


"It’s like a jungle sometimes
 It makes me wonder how I keep from going under.”
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

When I think of Corona, these song lyrics keep coming to my mind.
What is actually happening right now? Entire industries are collapsing (aviation, automotive, tourism, meat processing). A difficult social environment and the cramped living and working conditions lead to more infections, especially amongst disadvantaged people. The pandemic draws our attention to the social differences between rich and poor.

Why is it that some states are so severely affected? (2020.07.01; Brazil has registered more than 1,200 corona deaths within the last 24 hours. 2020.06.26; USA with 40.000 newly infected people in one day) The virus itself does not know these distinctions and affects all social structures due to the necessary restrictions on public life.

How is it with waste?

Waste also seems to spread initially via socially weaker structures. Via countries that still rely mainly on landfills and do not afford material and energy recycling. Here, too, the impact on the global climate concerns all social structures; the plastic particles in the world's oceans endanger rich and poor alike.

If the virus shows us that medical as well as social answers are needed, then the waste problem needs not only technical, but also primarily social solutions.

I am convinced that the conversion of waste into material and energy resources cannot be achieved without a fundamental change in all the social structures involved to form a circular society. This is the reason why WtERT also repeatedly presents case studies that go beyond all technology and are based on a special interaction of the local players.

For this reason, we at WtERT are working to identify outstanding and approved examples that help to overcome waste problems at all levels. By disseminating these examples, we want to participate in the fact that especially the social challenges can be mastered.

Werner Bauer
General Manager WtERT Germany GmbH
Vice President of Global WtERT Council

Physical distancing to slow the spread of the virus is essential. 
Our cover picture shows how the physical distance between visitors is ensured at a recycling yard in Germany.


“Tell the truth, fight for trust.”


While the small European state of Slovenia has already declared the end of the Corona crisis, other countries are still deeply uncertain. Some people are breathing a sigh of relief, but - according to the perceived view of international reports - normality is not yet in sight for most people. A subtle fear lies above everything. How good it is that a German daily newspaper (SZ, Süddeutsche Zeitung of May 13th, 2020) draws its readers' attention to the experience of dealing with the Spanish flu of 1918/19:

"Tell the truth, fight for trust" - the title of the report in the SZ already summarizes the essential points. Ten years ago, historians from the University of Michigan examined the actions of 43 US cities during the Spanish flu. 

What looms if the truth is concealed, the scientists demonstrated using the example of the city of Philadelphia. (SZ) "When the city already didn't know what to do with the dead, the authorities still declared that there was no cause to be alarmed." They made reference to the usual flu and that nothing unusual was happening." "In the end, the loss of confidence was so extensive that unity among the people suffered and society fell apart." With the words: "Fear turned people's hearts to stone" the SZ quotes a witness of that time.

In St Louis, on the other hand, public life was quickly curtailed, with the peak reaching only one-eighth of the level measured in Philadelphia.
Sometimes history teaches us quite drastically how important it is to report openly and transparently on a crisis. This applies not only to dealing with pandemics, but also to more local crises. In a small town in Tunisia, for example, we were able to witness how citizens turned against the effects of a burning landfill (dump) and managed to have it closed. Through the openness and transparency of the community, it was achieved that in the end citizens and administration concurred and worked together on solutions.

The announcements of the imminent climate catastrophe are also measurable and unambiguous. Here, too, quick reactions would be required, but these are denied by many circles. If Covid-19 had to remind us of the lessons of the Spanish flu, we should use this lesson in shaping the upcoming change in our economies. As described in the wording of our campaign "Waste Management’s Response to Climate Change" and in all the positive case studies, waste management is able to contribute to this.

In all countries of the world, good governance increases the confidence of citizens in the administration. Once this trust is established, enormous changes in behavior can be achieved in tune with the population. The handling of waste / recyclable materials by the population is growing in accordance with the course of those responsible for recycling collected waste. Citizens have an influence on a clean city. Wild waste dumping can only be overcome by municipalities and higher authorities.

The time for action has come. Step by step, we show fascinating examples of good action. 

Once again, I invite you to contribute your knowledge and actively participate in the WtERT sharing community.

Werner Bauer
General Manager WtERT Germany GmbH
Vice President of Global WtERT Council


In view of the global crisis

In view of the global crisis please let us pause for a moment together and share the untold suffering of those affected by the pandemic around the world. I would like to express my sincere appreciation for every united action of the people in the countries and institutions in Europe and the world.   

Thermal waste utilization is - at least in Germany - recognized as a system-relevant facility, since this is the only way contaminated waste can effectively be disposed of. Good for the countries that have such facilities for thermal waste utilisation. 

In many countries there is now a plea to cancel the measures to reduce greenhouse gases that, just a few weeks ago, were prioritized. This is very understandable in view of many industries, the tourism sector, agriculture, etc., which want to make up their losses resulting from the shutdown as quickly as possible. In order to be able to conduct this discussion internationally as well, we have translated the latest press release of the German Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze.

Here are some quotes: 

Schulze: "... Good nature conservation policy, which protects diverse ecosystems, is an important health precaution against the development of new diseases. …" 

Settele: "... We humans are dependent on functioning, diverse ecosystems. …" 
(Josef Settele is Professor at Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research.)

As called for in the quoted report of the World Biodiversity Council, it is a matter of "no less than a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, objectives and values. 

Fundamental, in my view, is ... reorganization of waste or resource management and reformulation of goals and values. Let us: 
- preferably close all landfills and dumps, before 2030, 
- tackle the necessary measures of energetic AND material recovery, 
- recognize the connections between the global destruction of the environment (see illegal trash dumps), mass animal husbandry and the global spreading of viruses threatening humanity, 
- consider what each individual in the WtERT network can contribute. 

We will continue to collect prominent examples of international waste management, which work sustainably in terms of the above points. As a most recent example, I refer to the case studies of the recycling center in front of the waste-to-energy plant Neu-Ulm and the conversion of a lignite-fired power plant to a waste to energy plant in Schwandorf, Germany. 

Once again, I invite you to contribute your knowledge and actively participate in the WtERT sharing community.

Werner Bauer
General Manager WtERT Germany GmbH
Vice President of Global WtERT Council


Due to Covid 19

It seems that nearly everywhere in the world public life is slowing down while health organization are running on high-speed or are preparing to do so. Trade routes have been blocked and many businesspeople are pondering on how to keep their companies running. 

In times like this, when travelling is limited, online communication and access to knowledge becomes more and more important. With transferable case studies we try to support local organizations and municipalities to find sustainable solutions to their waste management tasks, wherever they are.

Take care!

Hedwig Vielreicher
Director WtERT Germany GmbH


COP25 in Madrid

From December 2 to 13, about 26,700 people from 197 countries and 1,232 observer organizations meet at the COP25 in Madrid to take the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process. A key objective is to complete several matters with respect to the full operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Besides the global community´s so far failure to slow down the climate change process it is discussed "What are we doing?” and "What we need to do?”. 

To inspire more effective action in the WtERT Decision Support System many positive examples are given, stories of captured opportunity and lessons learned that are adaptable throughout the planet are shown. They are inspiring, guiding other businesses and groups to follow.

We try to take our part in sharing effective and positive examples of sustainable waste management with significant impact to climate benefits and are happy to present new case studies from Germany, Indonesia, China and Kenya.

Enjoy not only reading our news but much more the coming holidays. Have a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful New Year! 

Hedwig Vielreicher
Director, WtERT Germany GmbH


Waste Management´s Response to Climate Change

Welcome to our WtERT 2019 Indian Summer Newsletter.

Countries who want to manage MSW are talking about 3Rs; reduce, reuse, recycle. 3R solutions are needed, but to achieve the targets for mitigating climate   change the European Union´s aim with 3Rs is not sufficient. In WtERT’s strong belief 3R is not the aim – it’s one of the various tools.

In our opinion energy recovery should be considered just as much. And Energy recovery from waste means the use of methane from landfills and anaerobic digestors, the use of gas and oil from pyrolysis or incineration of waste with production of electricity and heat.

In our Campaign "Waste Management´s Response to Climate Change” we want to gain and disseminate case studies as prominent examples in sustainable waste management – with special focus on climate benefits. We are very happy that many institutions are joining in and the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection has agreed to take on an official patronage of our campaign.
Hedwig Vielreicher
Director WtERT Germany


The World is Awakening

Welcome to our WtERT 2019 Spring Newsletter:

The world is awakening: The CO2 levels haven’t been reduced significantly – since our last circular mail – and too much plastic residues are still finding their way into the oceans. And yet substantial changes have taken place.

The world has awoken and is becoming more and more aware of the limited resources on our mother earth. My impression is that not only has human awareness changed, but also the uproar is getting stronger. Why else would thousands of teenagers go out to protest on the streets, what would persuade scientists to gather signatures and facts to back the "Fridays for Future" movement professionally, and what would alter the political scene in such a way, if not for the concern of the future.

During this ongoing change, we have recognized that it is imperative to regard and present waste management even more under the aspect of its influence on climate change.

How WtERT is aiming to achieve a sustainable waste management and is thereby already now working on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, can be viewed in the following items.
Werner Bauer
General Manager WtERT Germany GmbH
Vice President of Global WtERT Council