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




Carbon fibre recycling

Labels: Germany

A new carbon fibre reycling technology makes it possible to recover carbon fibres from discarded vehicles and other products. At the same time, it contributes to a satisfy a growing demand for carbon fibres and closing the material loop by offering taylor-made applications for new carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CRP) products.

Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CRP) is an important future lightweight material. It is hard as steel but lighter than aluminum. The Airbus A380, for example, is a lightweight aircraft whose structure and components are made of up to 25 percent of CRP; the planned long-haul aircraft A 350 is made of even more than 50 percent.

CRP, however, is difficult to dispose of. Due to environmental reasons, the landfilling and incineration of CRP highly problematic in Europe. The more carbon fibres are used, the more CRP waste is generated - while the material is urgently needed in the industry.

The CFK Valley Stade Recycling GmbH & Co. KG has developed a method that simultaneously solves the disposal and the supply problem. The company converts carbon fibre-containing production residues and discarded components from all over Europe into high-quality carbon fibers. The CarboNXT GmbH then returnes the fibres to the material cycle in different, customized product variants.

For the recycling dry fiber residues and pre-impregnated fabric structures and CRP parts are sorted and crushed. The process of a highly innovative recycling technology and thermal treatment leads to a complete recovery of the pure carbon fibres which are then refined.

Barriers and Drivers

The world's first industrial cfk recycling plant was established In 2011; the technology was awarded with the German raw material efficiency prize 2011 (Deutscher Rohstoffeffizienzpreis 2011). This will drive the spreading of the technology and attract new actors and investors. The dissemination of the recycling technology will also be a very important step towards utilizing the material for the automotive industry (for lightweight production) which is only in the testing phase yet but needs to have a proven recycling technology in order to start mass production of vehicles with cfk.

Economic Performance

Today, the highest quality carbon fiber recycling CarboNXT GmbH products are sold in the international market. It is expected that material from all over Europe will be recycled in the new plant in Lower Saxony; more than 1,000 tonnes are currently being recycled per year.

Social Performance

6 employees in administration and 10 industrial employees; production started in February 2011.

Environmental Impact

Waste reduction by complete recovery of carbon fibres.

Further Information

Deutsche Rohstoffagentur (DERA)


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