We explain the most important specialist terms here.

  • C
  • E
  • H
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • P
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • W

Certification is the examination of an entire company, company procedures or products in relation to the fulfilment of certain criteria.

The certification is carried out by a proofer (auditor) from an independent institution and this is confirmed with a certificate. The receipt of the certificate confirms that the audited company adheres with standards with respect to its customers, the general public and its employees.

Commercial waste directive (GewAbfV)

In order to ensure the correct disposal of commercial residential wastes and of certain construction and demolition wastes, the commercial waste directive (GewAbfV) came into force in 2003.
Commercial residential wastes are understood to resemble household wastes, for example, office wastes, wastes from trades, but also from public institutions such as schools, nurseries and hotels.

The directive states that the wastes from commercial enterprises must be separated at the place of pick-up in order to ensure the best possible level of recycling.
The obligation to separate concerns paper and cardboard, glass, plastics, metals and bio-degradable wastes.

Commercial Wastes

Commercial wastes are those wastes that do not accrue in private households, but which are very similar nevertheless. Among these are, for example, wastes from medical practices, offices, schools and child-care centres.

In this context, the term "wastes similar to household wastes" is used. The wastes are disposed of by either the public waste collection or are collected and disposed of by a private company.

Its recycling is governed in the commercial waste directive. Commercial waste plus household waste are described as residential waste.

Eddy-flow separator

The eddy-flow separator is used when sorting the light packaging fractions and as a separating process when processing old glass. The eddy-flow separator separates out non-magnetic materials capable of conducting electric current such as aluminium, copper or magnesium from a material flow. The eddy-flow separator separates the materials by pushing them away using a very complex electromagnetic procedure.

With the help of this technology, films vaporized with aluminium can be separated from the stream of packaging, as well as metallic screw caps or bottle caps when processing glass.

Electronic waste verification process (eANV)

The abbreviation eANV stands for electronic waste verification process. It is defined in the verification directive that a verification needs to be carried in the case of specific types of waste – it usually has to do with hazardous wastes.

According to the directive, generators, transporters, recyclers and disposers of dangerous wastes are obligated to document all waste treatment steps. This includes the verification of disposal, the consignment docket and the acceptance docket. The responsible federal state authorities should be able to retrace what happened with the waste.

If the corresponding documents were maintained or stored in the past using a multipart form, the verifications must be carried out using the electronic waste verification process, meaning digitally, since the 1st of April 2010.
The handwritten signature was replaced with an electronic signature. The generator, transporter and disposer of wastes subject to verification obligations, as well as the responsible authorities transfer the required data among each other via standardized interfaces.

Energy recycling

If wastes can no longer be recycled, then energy recycling is a further option. In this case, the waste is incinerated and the energy released is used in the form of heat and power. This can be as a replacement fuel or this can also take place in a waste incinerator. The recycling law in its 5-level hierarchy prefers recycling over energy recycling If, however, the incinerating of waste generates a heating value in excess of 11,000 kJ/kg, the energy recycling is placed on the same level as recycling.

In exceptional cases, the energy recovery is also possible below the heat value: When the protection of people and the environment are better guaranteed compared to other recycling options.

Hazardous materials

Hazardous materials are materials, mixtures of materials or objects which contain materials in whose case it can be assumed that they, due to their nature, their physical or chemical properties or their condition when transported, could represent a particular danger to public safety or order. This, in particular, applies to the general public, important common public property, life and health of people, animals and other things. These materials are to be classified as hazardous materials in accordance with the statutory provisions.

Landfill Directive (DepV)

The recycling law determines: Wastes may only be disposed of in a landfill when no other recycling options are possible. The way these wastes need to be processed is contained in the Landfill Directive (DepV) from 2009. An amendment came into effect in May 2013.

The Landfill Directive contains requirements when it comes to the erection, operation, closing down and follow-up care of landfills. The legislature defines – depending on how hazardous the wastes to be disposed of are – different landfill classes (DK):

  • Landfill class 0: Applies, for example, for slightly contaminated mineral wastes
  • Landfill class III: This class includes hazardous wastes
  • Landfill class IV: Underground landfills belong to this category

In the landfill directive, different requirements are made of the location, staff, sealing system and the monitoring of the respective landfill.

The landfill directive defines in further points how wastes need to be treated and deposited. Even though the primary purpose for a landfill is to dispose of wastes, wastes can also be recycled there under certain circumstances. Examples of this are the creation of sealing and drainage layers by means of mineral wastes such as construction waste.

The form that the closing-down and follow-up care of the landfill should take is also regulated in the directive.

Magnetic Separator

The magnetic separator is a technology for separating and sorting of wastes. From material flows that are transported with a conveyer belt, the magnets above the conveyor belt or magnetic drums remove ferromagnetic material, in other words, predominantly materials containing iron.

When sorting fractions of light packaging from household waste, cans made of tin plate are separated. When preparing scrap metals, scrap steel is separated from scrap metal that does not contain iron.

Material Recycling

Material recycling is the aim to utilise the material characteristics of the wastes. Secondary raw materials are created in the process. This is what is generally understood under the term recycling.

Metals, plastics, glass and paper, among other materials, are recycled. This mostly involves the wastes being separated when they are collected or being subsequently sorted in a treatment plant. Depending on the waste material, it is treated in such a way as that it can be used in order to manufacture new products with it once again.

Near infrared technology

In the sorting plant, the packaging waste from households is separated into its individual fractions on a step-by-step basis. What is particularly difficult is the recognition and separation of different plastics. This is made possible by the near-infrared recognition.

Therefore, an infrared camera is installed above the transport conveyor belt that conveys the packaging. The camera transmits its data to a computer-supported evaluation unit. The various plastics are identified there using a software in which product-specific data are recorded. The computer electrically controls magnet valves, that blow air under the plastic objects to sort out the individual types of waste.

Non-ferrous metals

Non-ferrous metals, in contrast to ferrous metals, are predominantly not magnetic. In the periodical table of elements, they make up approximately 80 percent of all chemical elements. It is differentiated with regards to density between heavy metals and light metals, and regarding reactivity between precious metals and non-precious metals.

For the recycling industry, the acquirement and processing of non-ferrous scrap metals such as zinc, aluminium and copper is becoming increasingly important.


The abbreviation PPC stands for paper, cardboard and corrugated cardboard.


The provisions regarding the recycling of wastes is governed in the Waste Management and Product Recycling Act. Recycling principally is preferred to disposal. When deciding on the form of recycling, it is differentiated between material and energy recycling. In accordance with the five-level waste hierarchy, the material recycling is initially preferred to energy recycling. All in all though, the most environmentally friendly possibility is to be preferred. In the case of material recycling, it is differentiated between three forms:

  1. The substitution of (primary) raw materials from wastes, for example, paper fibres from waste paper, steel from steel scrap metal.
  2. The use of the material properties of waste for the original purpose, such as for the manufacture of lubricating oil from waste oil.
  3. The use of the material properties of waste for a different purpose, for example, as compost from organic waste with which to improve soil.

Energy recycling is when the primary purpose is to generate energy and not to dispose of hazardous wastes or in reducing volume. The wastes are a substitute for traditional energy sources for power and heat generation.

Recycling Economy

In a recycling economy, the raw materials used to manufacture a product should be returned to the manufacturing process beyond the actual life-cycle of that product. The considerations in relation to the circulation principle are based on the fact that both the natural resources as a source of raw materials, as well as the landfill possibilities for the waste and residual materials that are unavoidably created during industrial manufacturing are limited. The recycling economy is therefore taking nature as its role model and is trying to use energy and materials in the longest and most environmentally-friendly and socially sensible manner possible.

The principle of the recycling economy is anchored in the Waste Management and Product Recycling Act, as well as in the corresponding directives on packaging, batteries, electric and electronic devices, old vehicles, waste oil, among other things.

Replacement fuels

Replacement fuels are also described as secondary fuels and are fuels made from waste. They are used instead of fossil fuels and are particularly used in industrial, heating and cement power stations. Replacement fuels can be solid or liquid and are gained from a mixture of household, commercial and industrial wastes.

Replacement fuels are manufactured or treated in many different processes. It is usually the case that only those wastes are processed into replacement fuels that can no longer be recycled and are only suitable to be utilized in this manner.

Important parameters for replacement fuels are the thermal value, the residue on ignition, chlorine content and ash content. A “thermal-value fraction” is the portion of waste that has a higher thermal value than the original waste mix after separation.

The importance of replacement fuels is increasing all the time. In the past, there were fees for incinerating replacement fuels, but in the meantime, the manufacturers even sometimes receive money from the company taking their waste. If replacement fuels are used together with fossil fuels this is called co-firing. Replacement fuels are increasingly being used on their own in replacement fuel power plants in order to generate energy.

Residential Wastes

Residential wastes describe all household and commercial wastes. The waste occurs in private households and similar institutions such as schools and practices, as well as in retail and industry.
The wastes are similar in terms of type and characteristics. Residential wastes are more or less all wastes that are not created during a manufacturing process.

This is why wastes such as bulky household waste, market wastes, dirt from street cleaners and organic waste are also included with the residential waste. Faeces and sewage sludge are also regarded as residential waste.

Residual waste

Wastes that cannot be allocated to a specific fraction due the mixtures or contaminations and so cannot be collected separately, are described as residual waste. Technically, only very few things become residual waste. Among these are, for example, nappies, hygiene articles, soiled tissues or dust and ash. The municipal authorities are responsible for the collection and disposal of residual waste. If they do not have the right structures, they can also invite tenders for this service. The residual waste containers are usually grey in colour. The residual waste must be treated in accordance with the law, this takes place in a different way. The waste is often put through a mechanical-biological treatment plant. The residual waste is examined and various technologies are used to sieve through and sort it. The waste fractions gained through this process, e.g. metals, can be further recycled. A further part can be biologically treated, the rest is thermally utilised – in other words incinerated.

Secondary raw materials

Raw materials that are regained through recycling and used as raw materials for new products, are described as secondary raw materials. This sees household waste such as packaging made from glass, paper, plastics, aluminium, tin plate and composite materials being recycled in different ways and being redirected back into the manufacturing process.

Specialised recycling companies take care of commercial waste, in order to regain secondary raw materials from steel and metals, waste wood, plastics and paper. Using these raw materials saves primary raw materials, in other words natural resources.


Slag in the waste disposal industry is understood to be ash that results from waste incineration. These materials are inert, which means that they are no longer able to react. There are many valuable materials in the slag that were not burned. This means that it is worthwhile to treat the slag. For example, the slag is first stored, then sieved and crushed. Iron scrap, non-ferrous metals such as aluminium and copper are subsequently separated using a magnetic separator, for example. Depending the content of hazardous substances, the remaining slag is used for construction materials such as cement or tarmac, for example. Slags with high levels of hazardous substances need to be disposed of in a landfill.

Specialist waste disposal company

Companies can have themselves certified as a waste disposal company for the collecting and sorting, transport and recycling, as well as the trading in and mediating of wastes when they meet the corresponding requirements with respect to organization and equipment, as well as proving that its staff and company owners have the required specialist knowledge. The certification as a specialist waste disposal company can be carried out for the tasks: collecting and sorting, transporting and/or the recycling of wastes in accordance with the specialist Waste Disposal Company Directive (EfbV), for the trading in and mediating of wastes in accordance with the Economic Recycling Law with the help of an enforcement aid from the Joint Waste Commission of the Federal States (LAGA).

The basic prerequisite for the certification is that the correct treatment of wastes and the transparent and complete maintaining of verifications corresponds with the statutory requirements.

The certification as a specialist waste disposal company is carried out by technical supervisory organisations and their qualified and state-recognised experts.
The respective certificate is valid for 18 months; a re-certification must take place within twelve months in each facility.


The term sustainability originates originally from forestry and means not to cut down more trees than can regrow.

Sustainability is the concept of a permanent development of the economic, ecological and social dimension of human existence with a future. What is in essence meant with the three dimensions is:

  1. Ecological sustainability is orientated on the original thought of not overexploiting nature. Ecological sustainability is a way of life that only takes so much natural resources that can regenerate.
  2. Economic sustainability means that a society should not live beyond its means because this invariably results in less for the following generations.
  3. Social sustainability means that a society should be organised in such a way that the social tensions are kept in check and conflicts can be resolved in a peaceful way.

Sustainability can be made a reality on a local, national and global level. While an increasingly global approach is being taken from an ecological perspective (e.g. environmental protection), with respect to economic and social sustainability, the national perspective is to the fore. A sustainable development is being demanded for an ever increasing number of areas, whether with respect to one’s own lifestyle or for entire sectors such as mobility, manufacturing or energy supply.

Technical instructions on the recycling, treatment and any other form of disposal of residential wastes (TASi)

Technical instructions on the recycling, treatment and any other form of disposal of residential wastes was an administrative provision related to the Waste Act. The TASi is no longer valid following the coming into effect of the landfill directive in 2009.

The goal of the TASi from May 1993 was to create a set of strict rules in relation to the depositing of untreated residential waste. One of the most important principles of the TASi was the ban on depositing untreated wastes in landfills which had been in place since 2005. Over the course of the years, a large portion of the TASi was replaced by the waste storage directive. The TASi did remain in force however until 2009 because the waste storage directive made several references to the TASi.


The legislator defines in the recycling law: “Wastes in the sense of this law are all materials or objects that their owner dispensed with, wants to dispense with or needs to dispense with.” (Section 3, Paragraph 1). Everyone that generates waste and wants to dispose of this must adhere with the statutory provisions in place. The recycling law differentiates between “waste to be disposed of” and “waste to be recycled”.

In the member states of the EU, the fundamental principle of domestic disposal exists for “waste to be disposed of”. Exceptions are possible when no suitable plant or facility is available in the country with which to dispose of the special types of waste that exist or when the use of facilities in a close by border area are available to use.

“Waste for recycling” is regarded as economic goods on the other hand. The recycling of such wastes can also be carried out abroad.

Due to the amendment of the European Waste Shipments Regulation, a revised version of the Waste Shipments Regulation was required in Germany, and this came into effect on the 28th of July 2007.
This contains, for example, limitations with respect to contents and the countries where it is planned to recycle wastes.

Waste for recycling

Provisions governing the recycling of wastes are regulated in the Waste Management and Product Recycling Act. Principally, recycling has predominance over disposal. When it comes to the recycling, it is differentiated between material and energy recycling.

In accordance with the five-level waste hierarchy, the recycling of materials is initially predominant over energy recycling. All in all, the most environmentally compatible possibility should always be preferred.

There are three forms differentiated between in relation to recycling materials:

The substitution of (primary) raw materials from wastes, for example, paper fibres from old paper, steel from scrap metal.
The utilisation of material properties from waste materials for the original purpose such as producing lubricating oil from waste oil.
The utilisation of material properties from waste materials for other purposes, for example, compost from organic wastes as a way to improve soil quality.
We talk about energy recovery when the primary purpose is generating energy and not in disposing of wastes containing hazardous substances or in the reduction of volumes. The wastes replace traditional fuels for generating power and heat.

Waste hierarchy

A central element of the recycling act is the five-level waste hierarchy. It defines in what sequence wastes need to be dealt with.

1. Avoidance
2. Preparation for recycling
3. Recycling
4. Other recycling, in particular energy recycling and backfilling.
5. Disposal

Despite the supposed strict ranking, when selecting the measures to be taken, the option must always be selected that best serves to protect both people and environment. Technical, economic and social aspects must also be taken into consideration in this case.

Waste Management and Product Recycling Act (KrWG)

The current Waste Management and Product Recycling Act (KrWG) came into force on the 1st of June 2012 and serves as the central German federal law on waste. It is a further development of the Waste Management and Product Recycling Act from 1996. The act differentiates between waste to be recycled and waste to be disposed of. An annex to the act states which types of waste fall under this definition. A central consideration is the product responsibility. In accordance with the law, the responsibility for a product is implemented both through statutory measures, as well as through the voluntary commitment on the part of the manufacturer and the seller.

For the first time in the Waste Management and Product Recycling Act, a five-level waste hierarchy was introduced. It orientates itself on the instructions in the EU waste framework guideline. In accordance with this, the following fundamental ranking for the treatment of wastes exists: 1. Avoidance, 2. Preparation for recycling, 3. Recycling, 4. Other forms of utilisation, 5. Disposal. Exceptions to these are also described in the act.

The act introduced further disposal obligations. Among them, the municipal districts are obliged to collect organic waste separately by 2015. The act furthermore also created the legal foundation for a uniform recyclable material container.

The Waste Management and Product Recycling Act is supplemented with an array of legislative decrees aimed at firming up and supplementing the act. Among these are, for example, the landfill directive and the commercial waste directive.

Waste to be disposed of

Wastes that are not recycled are to be permanently excluded from the recycling economy and are to be disposed of in order to ensure the well-being of the general public.

Disposal is every process that is not a recycling, even if the process has the additional consequence that materials or energy are regained.

The legislator can lay down requirements relating to keeping different types of material separate, the treatment of wastes, as well as the provision, hand-over, collection, transport, storage and depositing of wastes to be disposed of. The requirements in relation to depositing wastes are laid down in the landfill directive from the 27th of April 2009.

Principally, wastes to be disposed may only be treated, stored or deposited in certified plants.

Waste, hazardous

Due to different hazardous contents being contained in the waste, there are also various grades of monitoring of the recycling or disposal. The classification of the wastes is regulated in the List of Waste Materials (AVV), which implements the European waste catalogue into German law. The form and structure of the legal waste monitoring was further aligned to EU law on the 1st of February 2007. The descriptions “waste requiring special monitoring” and “waste requiring monitoring” were replaced with the term “hazardous waste”.

The categorisation as hazardous waste, colloquially often referred to as special waste, is carried out in accordance with Section 3, paragraph 2 AVV. This refers, for example, to packaging that is soiled with paints or lacquers, that contain halogenated solvents, batteries that contain lead, nickel or cadmium, braking fluids, printing inks, adhesives and artificial resins, fluorescent tubes, photo-chemicals, chlorinated machine/transmission/lubricating oils and others.

“Non-hazardous wastes” according to AVV are wastes that do not contain any hazardous substances, soiling or contents, and whose recycling would not cause any significant problems, in particular the recyclable components of household waste and commercial waste which is similar to household waste, such as paper, cardboard, wood, glass, plastics, metals. This also includes wastes that need to be disposed of, but which are not hazardous wastes.

The monitoring is regulated by the responsible waste authority. The basis is the provisions of the various waste-related laws, regulations or Federal Government guidelines, the verification directive, as well as the sub-statutory policy in relation to the recycling law. Hazardous wastes may only be transported by the generator of the waste to a licensed recycling or disposal facility with an official permit. The authorities must be informed about the time and amount of special waste brought to the facility. The verification of this is being provided using the electronic waste verification process (eANV) since the 1st of April 2010.

Copyright © Ihlenberger Abfallentsorgungsgesellschaft mbH