German mech-bio waste law approved

Legislative process finalised for measure to secure waste management technique's long-term future

New German rules designed to enable mechanical-biological treatment (MBT) of municipal waste to continue after June 2005 will enter into force on 1 March after final cabinet approval of the measures today. The package was put forward by the government last October (ENDS Daily 5 October 2000) in line with a pledge made the previous year (ENDS Daily 23 August 1999).

Widely used in Germany's eastern states, MBT has been under threat from strict limits on the organic content of treated waste going to landfill due to take effect in 2005 under a 1993 technical regulation known as the TaSi. These states would thus have been forced into making massive investments in waste incineration plant.

The TaSi is now to be revoked and its 5% limit on organic content of treated waste going to landfill replaced by a limit of 18% in a new ordinance. MBT plants can generally achieve this target, though any MBT residues with a higher organic content will have to be incinerated. Two further ordinances set higher environmental standards for MBT plants so as to minimise water and air pollution respectively.

By replacing the TaSi - which had administrative status - with an ordinance, the government is also hoping to ensure harmonised implementation of the rules across Germany's 16 states. The new rules reaffirm the TaSi's requirement for an end to all landfilling of untreated waste from 2005. Environment minister Jürgen Trittin today described the final outcome as an acceptable outcome which did justice to the environment.

Follow Up:
German environment ministry, tel: +49 30 28 55 00, a press release and summary of new law.

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