In many developing and industrialising countries, both the knowledge and standard of recycling and waste management is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, raising awareness for environmental issues and scarce resources require technological and management solutions. These solutions provide opportunities for the technical leadership and knowledge of German companies and administrative actors to step in. Technology transfer and the implementation of technical solutions facilitate the development of worldwide waste management performance standards.
Following the initiative ‘Recycling and Efficiency Technology’ by the German Federal Environment Ministry in 2007, RETech was established as a network providing market intelligence. Originally set up with public funding, has been run as private initiative since 2011. It is the central contact point for German companies, supporting exports in the field of waste management and recycling. The wider aim is connected with supporting local communities through technology transfer and implement technical solutions anywhere - including developing and industrialising countries. Network members are companies and public and academic partners specialised in recycling and waste. Via the ReTech portal, they communicate and provide support to each other. The portal can be used by foreign companies and other administrative units (local environmental offices, funding institutions etc.). Many worldwide activities are promoted by political stakeholders and backed by public funding bodies (e.g. the KfW or German federal ministries for environment, economy or development). Particularly in developing and industrialising countries that lack waste management systems, targeted approaches to waste reduction and finding alternatives to landfill were identified as especially needed. In these areas, a toolkit was developed providing guidelines and examples. Another activity is ‘EU-Twinning’, whereby German experts are seconded to partner countries – which is an effective way to provide knowledge transfer.
The RETech partnership received its initial grant funding from the public sector. Once a more solid structure was established, the initiative became a private sector endeavour. However, a solid anchoring of public sector organisations in the organisational structure – for instance in the advisory board – provided credibility and support. According to an evaluation of the similarly structured Energy Efficiency Export Initiative, the latter initiative has successfully contributed to increase the number of sectoral employees in Germany and increased export shares – therefore reaching its main goals.
While initial public grant funding for demonstration and commercial exploitation was an important factor to establish the partnership, ReTech can currently be sustained in competitive industries through private sector funding (network members). On the GML, the measure is estimated to be 9.