Environmental technologies

At the cutting edge of environmental protection

Germany is a worldwide leader in environmental technologies relating to climate change, recycling and waste management, and water treatment. Environmentally friendly products are projected to account for 19 percent of German GDP by 2025. 

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.

Turnover in environmental protection goods and services by sector 2016
In 2016, the German waste management and recycling markets totalled approximately EUR 20 billion equivalent to 16 percent of global market volume. According to BMU/Roland Berger, the German circular economy industry is expected to grow by more than 5 percent annually through 2025.
Market volume of Germany's circular economy

977 EUR million

Germany is the largest European exporter of water and wastewater technologies: the German export volume reached 977 EUR million in 2016.

100 EUR billion

in investment since 1990 has created Europe’s biggest sustainable water management market, with the private sector as a large recipient of investment .

12 percent

Germany's water market is projected to grow over 12 percent annually through 2025.
Germany leads Europe in sustainable water management: the German market is the largest, with a volume of 28 EUR billion and 11 percent of global market volume.
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Progressive 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.  

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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

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38 percent of sewage sludge in Germany was used in agriculture and landscaping in 2015. The use of sewage sludge for fertilisation purposes is to be prohibited, and phosphor and other nutrients recovered. As no specific recovery technologies have been defined, this will allow new market players providing innovative recovery procedures to successfully enter the market.

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 third renewal of the programme included EUR 2 billion in funding for the years 2015 to 2020. 

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.

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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 billion has been granted to 1,500 projects. These research projects involved a total of 2,500 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.