Sustainability Communication in Waste Management – Basics and Best Practices

This project, which ran from February 2017 to October 2019, was funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU). How can a sustainable approach to waste management be defined and which indicators can be applied across all stages of the value chain? Using three material flows as examples, we have developed and tested sustainability ideas in order to achieve an improvement in recycling or reuse for these material flows compared to the current situation, or to clarify which legal, economic or other obstacles stand in the way of an improvement. Project partners were N³ Nachhaltigkeitsberatung Dr. Friege & Partner (Voerde) and BASIKNET Gesellschaft für Arbeitsschutz mbH (Berlin). You can download the guidelines developed in the project here for free:

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Where are the WEEE?

Where are the electrical and electronic equipment no longer in use? This question is being investigated in a new project. Germany will not meet the European collection targets for WEEE in the coming years. Rare metals such as cobalt, indium or silver will thus be lost. But we need these metals for new products, e.g. in the field of renewable energy production. Illegal exports of electronic waste, on the other hand, lead to environmental pollution in West Africa and Asia. Every German citizen produces about 20 kg of electronic waste annually. Less than half of this is dropped where it is supposed to go: at recycling centers, electronics retailers or directly to the manufacturers. Where is the rest? To answer this question UBA commissioned INTECUS (Dresden) and Cyclos Future (Osnabrück); N³ joins this group focusing on international issues.

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A Better Strategy for Protecting Our Soils!

N³ is collaborating with other experts to develop a strategy for the better protection of our soils. Our client is the German Environment Agency. Public perception often undervalues the importance of soil compared to climate or water. However, soil plays a critical role in our lives: it’s what we live on and what we live from. The soil should continue to produce enough food, serve as a water reservoir and filter for pollutants, process leaves into humus. All these functions depend on a healthy soil ecosystem. The biodiversity of our soils is remarkably diverse. Nothing works without the diversity of soil organisms!

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Plastic in the Soil – Danger or Scaremongering?

“Plastics in the environment – a problem for our soils or just a false alarm?” was the focus of a recent expert conference organized by the Commission for Soil Protection at the German Environmental Agency (UBA). We were happy to have over 300 participants – a small record for this conference. The conference was coordinated by N³ in collaboration with our colleagues from the German Federal Environment Agency and our project team as part of our ongoing soil protection project. All presentations, as well as a brief summary of the results, can be found here. Special thanks to our speakers, moderators, and all who contributed to the discussion!

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Sustainable Building and Living with Focus on Plastics…

Is the use of plastics in construction a major advance and a contribution to sustainable development? Or a problem for waste management and climate? You can’t answer that with a simple yes or no. N³ is addressing this complex issue on behalf of the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre – ISC3. ISC3 has declared “Sustainable Building and Living with Focus on Plastics” as its technical focus for 2019. In a preliminary study, N³ developed an overview of the use of a wide variety of plastic materials in the construction sector and identified critical areas as well as innovative approaches. You can download a lecture on this topic given by Prof. Dr. Henning Friege at the

ISC3 Summer School here.

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European Sustainable Development Network in Icy Helsinki

The European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN) is, so far, an informal network of government representatives and sustainability experts. ESDN members meet once a year in the country holding the respective EU Presidency—this year, the meeting took place in Helsinki. N³ has been an associate member of the ESDN for five years. Peter Wolfmeyer, a partner at N³, was present in Helsinki and moderated several discussion forums. The main focus was on current issues surrounding the UN’s 2030 Agenda.

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Urban Mining: N³ Analyzes the Potential for Bonn

What metals can be extracted in what quantities in a city today and in the future? This is the prerequisite for “Urban Mining”: We need to know which resources are present in households, buildings, or infrastructure. Only then can we make these resources available to the economy again when their use comes to an end. The aim of “Urban Mining” is to replace primary raw materials, saving not just valuable resources but usually also energy. This can also help avoid greenhouse gas emissions, especially during raw material extraction.

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Kraków: N³ at the European Congress of Local Governments

Peter Wolfmeyer, an N³ partner, was once again invited by the European Congress of Local Governments to moderate internationally staffed panels and speak about the progress of ongoing N³ projects, such as those related to innovation and the internationalization of SMEs. The European Congress of Local Governments has evolved into one of the most important meeting platforms for local and regional decision-makers, particularly from Central and Eastern Europe. This year, the annual event was hosted for the fifth time by the Institute for Eastern Studies Foundation in Warsaw, with financial support from the Polish Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, the City of Kraków, as well as numerous Polish and international companies like TAURON and VEOLIA. On 8th and 9th April in Kraków, over 1,200 participants discussed current developments in fields such as energy, mobility, communication with citizens, and the allocation of responsibilities between government levels. Peter Wolfmeyer moderated a panel on globalization and investor acquisition this year and conducted a workshop with the former Minister for Economic Affairs of Bavaria, Martin Zeil. The Foundation’s next event, known as the Industry Forum, will be held in the Polish spa town of Krynica-Zdrój in early September. Every year, more than 3,000 industry representatives gather there to discuss critical economic and political issues over three days. N³ will also be in attendance.

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What are the implications of the European Strategy for Plastics?

What does the EU Plastics Strategy mean for the future development of plastic products, and how does it affect the world’s oceans? N³ is deeply involved in issues related to chemical and waste management policy. In light of this, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK Mittlerer Niederrhein) invited Henning Friege to deliver a lecture on the EU Plastics Strategy.

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