Circular Economy

At the cutting edge of climate protection

Germany is a worldwide leader in environmental technologies relating to climate change, recycling and waste management, and water treatment.

German environmental protection goods enjoyed a 14 percent global trade share in 2016. Environmentally friendly products also represented 15 percent of German GDP in the same year.

In 2020, the German waste management and recycling markets totaled approximately EUR 24 billion According to BMU/Roland Berger, the German circular economy industry is expected to grow by more than 5.9 percent annually through 2030.
Market volume of Germany's circular economy (in EUR billion)

Pioneering environmental regulation drives innovation

The legal framework for the circular economy, the German Waste Management Act (KrWG), always gives precedence to the most environmentally sound option/technology for the treatment of waste, opening up space for foreign companies offering innovative recycling solutions.  


A growing tendency to eat out and the rise of mail-order businesses and e-commerce are only some of the roots of the constant increase of packaging waste in Germany. The recently introduced German Packaging Act demands higher recycling quotas for packaging, thus intensifying the need for new and improved recycling technologies.

Minimum recovery rates as of 2022

Government support for collaboration

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports the “Research for Sustainability” or FONA programme of collaborative networks for sustainability-oriented R&D. The programme includes EUR 4 billion in funding for the years 2020 to 2025.

The BMBF supports the development of sustainable water management technologies by way of the “Sustainable Water Management” (NaWaM) funding programme, a part of FONA. In collaborative projects with industry partners, the BMBF specifically calls for and supports small- and medium-sized enterprises to develop Germany's role as a world leader in this sector.


In Germany, research is green.

Environmental technology research in Germany

120,000 research projects

There are more than 120,000 research projects in environmental technologies in Germany in such areas as water, energy and biodiversity, among many others.

BMBF’s “KMU-innovativ”

This initiative supports SMEs’ research in the fields of resource efficiency and climate change, among others. Since its launch in 2007, more than EUR 1.2 billion has been granted to 1,700 projects involving a total of 2,900 SMEs.

100 EUR million

To date, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has invested approx. 100 EUR million in sustainability research.

10,000 institutions

These projects take place at more than 10,000 institutions across Germany.

A long tradition in environmental technologies, pioneering environmental policy and a supportive legal framework has helped establish Germany as a leading player in the green economy. However, new environmental challenges continually create the need for innovation and offer opportunities for international companies to thrive in one of the most advanced environmental technology markets worldwide. Get in touch to learn more.