Germany's historic floods followed by torrent of bulky waste

Home owner and waste management company workers load water-soaked bulky waste into bin lorry after floods in western Germany.
A.R.T. Trier crews collecting bulky waste after historical
floods hit part of its catchment area.
21.07.2021 − 

As residents of German towns hit by last week's record floods dig out their homes and businesses, the region's waste management companies are struggling to contend with a surge of bulky waste. Workers from A.R.T., the waste management partnership set up by the Trier region's local authorities, are working overtime to clear streets of water-logged waste now that the flood waters have receded. In only the first three days of operations, 14,000 tonnes of bulky waste had been collected in 60 of its member municipalities, the A.R.T. said.

The waste management partnership's 500 member municipalities usually generate around 12,000 tonnes of bulky waste – in an entire year. And there is no end in sight. It is still impossible at this stage to provide any serious estimate of the amount of bulky waste that will be generated within the flooding area in western Germany.

"Our people are really very motivated," A.R.T spokesperson Kirsten Kielholtz told EUWID, noting that some employees were working to the point of exhaustion. "At the same time, we area getting an incredible amount of help," Ms Kielholtz said. The A.R.T.'s partner companies are actively helping with the clean-up work. In some places, farmers were also lending a hand and removing bulky waste using their tractors.

The waste is being stored temporarily at the organisation's landfill, after removal of hazardous materials and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The ultimate fate of the material has yet to be decided, according to ART. Potential contamination makes the waste wood unsuitable for materials recycling or energy recovery in biomass power plants and the sudden appearance of massive amounts of bulky waste is therefore not expected to disrupt the larger German waste wood market.

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