Germany is an export-oriented nation with a strong manufacturing industry and well established eco-innovation areas and markets. Since 2013 the Germany’s performance in the Eco-innovation Scoreboard has dropped by one place and ranks fourth in 2014-2015. This is mainly attributed to a downshift in the socio-economic and resource efficiency outcomes. Germany performs particularly well in the subcategories eco-innovation patents and exports of products from eco-industries.

With respect to a circular economy, Germany is characterised by very good waste infrastructures and recycling rates. The present focus on technical waste management and end-of-life measures is simultaneously signalling further demand for innovative waste instruments at the interface of material cycles and new business models. A first step was taken by introducing the Waste Prevention Programme in 2013. A strengthening of the regulatory framework and a better alignment of responsibilities, competencies and approaches towards a circular economy seem important for the increase of secondary input rates and a closing of the loops. The demand for high-tech and waste technologies is expected to remain high in the world and–as one of the market leaders– Germany has a strong standing in exporting innovative waste management solutions.

The German green tech sector is expected to further develop dynamically. The early implementation of the Renewables Energies Act (in 1991) and the introduction of the German Resource Efficiency Programme (ProgRess) in 2012 serve as important and drivers for energy and resource efficiency, eco-innovation and the energy transition in Germany.

The framework conditions for innovation are generally well developed and include both supply and demand-side instruments while there is a pronounced reliance on voluntary and informational approaches at the consumption side. An eco-innovation action plan is under development. Nevertheless, Germany will probably not meet its sustainable development strategy targets for raw material and energy productivity, energy consumption, biodiversity, land use, mobility and farming .

2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Germany




Aircraft recycling

germany_Airplane_resizedMobile dismantling and material recovery of discarded aircrafts.

The development of airplanes took little account of the recyclability of the materials in the past. That is why the longevity of aircrafts (life expectancy of ca. 30 years) makes the recycling of composite end-of-life aircraft very complex. Today, the recycling is still very inadequate in the different life cycle phases of aircraft.

In Germany, it is a new business to use end-of-life aircraft as a resource . Companies in the U.S. and in France, however, dismantle old jets for some years. The focus of the recycling firms previously focused primarily on high quality structural components: Powerful turbines, landing gear and cockpit electronics bring in a several million euros as second-hand goods. For many older aircrafts spare parts are scarce. But also the raw materials used to construct the machine are becoming increasingly interesting for recyclers.

Keske is developing  a mobile task force for that product-service system. This includes scrap shears and special tools, as well as the necessary technology for extracting oil, gas and kerosene. Within one month, the reycling unit will be ready for operation anywhere in the world. Two to three experts from Keske will travel to the aircraft cemetery. Locally, the company will then hire workers and rent standard machines such as excavators. Within a few days the team should dismantle an aircraft, dry up the airplane and chop up the materials into thousands of pieces. In early 2013, the Keske dismantling unit shall be available.

The project is funded by the Ministry of Education and Research within the framework of the federal programme "SME Innovation".

Barriers and Drivers

The recycling of aircrafts is expected to be profitable in the coming years due to high-value recycling parts and altogether large volumes which could be an important driver of this service.

The major logistical and administrative efforts could be an obstacle to a wider spread of the service.

Economic Performance

Airbus and Boeing expect to discharge 6,500 to 8,500 of their machines from the market until 2028 - up to 450 airplanes per year; the scrap value is currently estimated at around 100,000 EUR.

Social Performance

End-of-life aircraft are often not parked in Europe, but especially in Africa, South America and Asia; local job opportunities.

Environmental Impact

Waste reduction by dismantling of end-of-life aircraft and recovery of materials, Environmental benefits locally; within a pilot project dismantling a A300 airbus, specialists gathered over 60 tonnes of recyclable materials from the jet; including 46 tons of aluminum and several tons of steel, titanium, copper and high-grade plastics. The recycling rate at the time was 85 percent.

Further Information

Jeanvré, Sebastian (2012): Flugzeug-Recycling – Neue Ansätze zur Rohstoffrückgewinnung, in: Karl J. Thomé-Kozmiensky, Daniel Goldmann (2012): Recycling und Rohstoffe – Band 5 – Neuruppin: TK Verlag Karl Thomé-Kozmiensky, pp. 457-468.

Picture: © KESKE Entsorgung GmbH


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