How does the circular economy work

Circular economy

Less waste, reuse and recycle

A circular economy strives for the longest possible use of products and raw materials. In practical terms, this means avoiding waste by reusing and repairing existing products. If that is not possible, they are broken down into their starting materials, i.e. raw materials, and these are recycled. Waste avoidance and reuse always come before recycling.

more on the subject

Circular economy in Germany

How many raw materials do we use, how many do we recycle?

Every person in Germany uses around 16,000 kilograms of raw materials - every year! Only a maximum of twelve percent of this comes from recycling. This is shown by a new study commissioned by NABU. More →

The ways of our household waste - unfathomable?

Well sorted is half the battle

Open the garbage can, put in rubbish and close the lid - this is how we dispose of our rubbish every day. But what actually happens to empty yogurt cups, old banana peels and used handkerchiefs after the garbage disposal has arrived? Find out in our animated infographic! More →

The European Union's circular economy package

The circular economy has to be more than just recycling

The circular economy package is the basis for the EU's activities to better recycle waste in Europe. However, the question of how waste can be avoided overall remains unanswered. More →

The second life of electrical appliances

Ten facts about recycling e-waste

What is so dangerous about electronic waste? Who takes back old electrical appliances? And how does recycling work? We answer the ten most important questions about the recycling of electronic waste. More →

Resources remain unused

Too many households do not have a bio-waste bin

Collecting organic waste separately makes an important contribution to nature and climate protection. But despite legal obligations, numerous cities and municipalities are lagging behind. Often the organic waste bin is only available on a voluntary basis or it is not offered at all. More →

Export of plastic waste

Opaque practice with ecological and social consequences

Plastic waste from Germany is not only disposed of and recycled within the federal borders. A considerable part is exported. Exports to Southeast Asia in particular are problematic and urgently need to be regulated. More →

What is the recycling bin?

Benefits of Collecting Plastic, Metal, and Composites Together

Between twelve and 15 million citizens in Germany already have experience with yellow or orange garbage cans, into which not only packaging but also other plastic and metal can be thrown. NABU has put together facts about the recycling bin. More →


Closing cycles instead of burning recyclables

A significant part of our waste ends up in waste incineration plants. But the more that is burned, the less that can be recycled. A major hurdle for a real circular economy. More →

Failed recycling

Study shows dramatic gaps in e-waste recycling

A NABU study shows the statutory loopholes in the recycling of electronic waste, which urgently need to be closed through an amendment to the Electronics Act and a treatment ordinance. High quality recycling must also recover plastics and critical metals. More →

Old textiles: no minimum standards in sight

NABU demands more and higher quality recycling

The recycling of used textiles in Germany has to improve both quantitatively and qualitatively. Transparent data on quantities and disposal routes are necessary; Legal requirements and financial incentives must promote fiber-to-fiber recycling. More →

Events on resource conservation

Dialogue forum and political discussions on the circular economy

In view of global challenges such as climate change, planetary boundaries and plastic eddies in the world's oceans, we need to change the way we deal with our natural resources. We would like to achieve our goals together through a constructive dialogue. More →



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