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Circular Economy Act

  • Published on December 17, 2019
The Circular Economy Act (Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz KrWG) is the central federal law of the German waste legislation and transposes the Directive 2008/98/EC into German law. The newly revised Circular Economy Act transposes the revised European Directive 2018/851/EC and the newly European Directive 2019/904/EC on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment and goes beyond European lay in some areas to achieve closed-loop recycling. Amendments will also be made to the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, Packaging Directive, Battery Directive, End-of-Life Vehicles Directive and Landfill Directive, among others. One of the core provisions of the Circular Economy Act is the five-step hierarchy pursuant to Article 6, according to which the following ranking of waste management measures applies: • Prevention • Preparation for recycling • Recycling • Other types of recovery, particularly use for energy recovery • Disposal Furthermore, it assigns disposal responsibilities to manufacturers and distributors of products. The new version includes an obligation for public procurement to favor sustainable products and in particular those which contribute to a circular economy i.e. repairable, recyclable, low-polluting, low-waste, provided that no unreasonable additional costs are incurred. The law includes a new instrument called duty of care (« Obhutspflicht »), an obligation to take care of goods and allow their disposal only as a "ultima ratio" principle. Producers, retailers and selling platforms are obliged to make use of (functioning) goods even when they are out of fashion or sent back by customers. The duty of care principle is subject to ordinances. On the basis of legal ordinances, a transparency report can be required on surplus and returned goods especially in the textile and electronic industry.
The Circular Economy Act (KrWG) has made people even more aware of the necessity to separate waste, led to the introduction of new disposal technologies, and increased recycling capacities. Today, 14 per cent of the raw materials used by the German industry are recovered waste.

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