Sound waste management enables municipalities to manage resources more effectively through recovery and recycling. It also enables them to create jobs. The Hanseatic City of Rostock is a positive example of successful waste separation and recycling.
Rostock is located on Germany's Baltic coast in the federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and currently has a population of approximately 207,800. These citizens produce approximately 100,000 tons of domestic waste every year. The collection and removal of waste from private households, such as domestic waste, bulky waste, electrical and electronic waste, and organic waste, is the responsibility of the waste management company Stadtentsorgung Rostock GmbH. Almost all the municipal waste generated in Rostock undergoes processes to recover and recycle materials, or recover energy. Various technical processes are used to recycle waste and recover valuable materials.
To ensure that its waste management system is environmentally and economically sound, the Hanseatic City of Rostock relies on an ecologically-based approach. Sustainability, environmental awareness and social aspects enjoy high priority.
The aim is to organise solid waste recycling and disposal on an economically stable basis, in order to deliver the best possible services to private households in the city for the lowest possible price. High priority is attached to short disposal and recycling routes in order to avoid additional transport.
Public awareness-raising work is designed to change consumer behaviour, and thus avoid waste. Positive environmental effects are also generated by treating waste in ways that conserve resources, e.g. by using processes to recover energy from waste, and to separate waste and recover recyclable materials.
As in many German cities, in the Hanseatic City of Rostock waste separation begins at the point where waste is collected separately within private households.
Private households are provided with separate waste bins for paper and cardboard, lightweight packaging, organic waste and general waste.
These are emptied at regular intervals. Waste bins are available in various sizes according to requirements. Each black, brown and blue bin is fitted with a chip that automatically indicates which bin belongs to which property.
Large quantities of paper and cardboard, and glass, can also be disposed of in containers that are located all around the city. There are a total of around 300 waste glass containers in which citizens can dispose of bottles and glassware, which they separate by colour. Additional waste paper and cardboard containers are situated at approximately 100 bays. The city also has eight bays where underground containers have been installed for the disposal of glass and waste paper. These are located for instance in the historic centre where there is little space to install such containers, and where they would be an eyesore for the city. The containers are emptied using a special refuse collection vehicle.
On behalf of the Hanseatic City of Rostock, the city's own waste management company operates four recycling yards. Here, citizens of Rostock can dispose of the following types of waste at no additional cost: second-hand clothes, batteries, electrical and electronic waste, garden and park waste, scrap, problematic household waste, bulky waste and recyclable materials. The costs generated by running the recycling yards are financed through the waste disposal fees paid by all citizens of Rostock.
The various materials recovered are re-used through a variety of recycling processes. Waste paper and cardboard are used to manufacture recycled paper. Wherever possible, lightweight packaging is used to recover raw materials that can be used to manufacture new products. Leaves, cuttings and garden waste are composted, and in some cases sold as compost at the recycling yards.
Domestic waste is processed at Rostock's mechanical biological treatment (MBT) facility. Essentially this facility is used to produce substitute fuels and materials suitable for landfills. The aim is to dispose of waste that cannot be reused in a way that is environmentally sound, and to keep the proportion of waste that will be incinerated as low as possible. At the facility metal, glass and stone is first of all filtered out of the waste. The remaining waste is then crushed, and further separated into inorganic and organic components. The inorganic waste is used as a fuel in a nearby waste incineration plant to recover thermal energy, and produce electricity and heat. Since 2010, the organic components have been fermented in order to produce crude biogas. Some of this is used to generate electricity and heat, which is used to power the plant. The surplus is further processed into biomethane. All in all the facility produces twice the amount of energy needed to operate it. Furthermore, construction of the new biogas processing plant has reduced CO2 emissions.
Key importance is attached to the awareness-raising measures that regularly provide the public with information on environmentally sound ways to produce, reduce, separate and collect waste.
These include for instance information campaigns, battery collection campaigns and themed poster campaigns. Furthermore, cases of illegal waste disposal can also be reported to the local authority through an online whistleblowing system: www.klarschiff-hro.de.
Waste disposal and recycling are financed through fees. Every household is obliged to pay these fees. The fees are set according to the number of occupants, the volume of the waste containers and the frequency of collection. The fees also cover the use of the recycling yards, the disposal of typical household waste such as bulky waste, green waste, electrical and electronic waste, problematic waste and other special types of waste. They do not cover for instance construction waste or tyres.
Solid waste management in the Hanseatic City of Rostock is organised on a financially sustainable basis, which means citizens can be provided with high-quality service. At the same time the fees are kept as low as possible.
The city's waste separation and recycling system is characterised by a high degree of recycling of various materials, and the use of environmentally sound methods. The biogas processing plant has made it possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from waste treatment.
The Hanseatic City of Rostock's solid waste management system uses innovative procedures and approaches that are closely harmonised. This enables the city to realise various goals, and to organise waste management in a way that is both environmentally sound and at the same time responsive to citizens' needs – i.e. socially sound and efficient.
Hanse- und Universitätsstadt Rostock
Amt für Umweltschutz / Abt. Abfallwirtschaft
Holbeinplatz 14, 18069 Rostock
Tel: 0381 381-7347/7314
Fax: 0381 381-7373