IFAT Environmental Index 2020

Despite COVID-19: climate protection remains urgent

  • Environmental industry calls for more circular economy to protect the climate
  • Recycling reduces greenhouse gases
  • Survey among 2,992 environmental experts of the IFAT trade fair network

Recycling more waste, using more recycled raw materials and strengthening the polluter-pays principle: putting raw materials into circulation reduces global warming gases and is a central demand of the environmental industry. The IFAT Environmental Index 2020 reflects this—the online survey was conducted among members in the network of the world's largest trade fair for environmental technologies, which was originally scheduled to take place in May.

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic is currently pushing climate protection into the background, it is still an urgent topic—and initiatives such as the European Green Deal remain valid. One of the most promising issues is the circular economy, reducing greenhouse gases through the sustainable use of raw materials,” says Stefan Rummel, Managing Director of Messe München. “The environmental industry provides the applicable technologies, which can normally be seen at IFAT. However, to achieve a genuine circular economy it is also clear that the polluter-pays principle must be strengthened.” A demand that the IFAT Environmental Index reinforces.

The respondents favor three measures to promote the circular economy: 77 percent want to make recycling capability mandatory already when the product is approved. 75 percent additionally focus on better waste separation and collection. 68 percent advocate that product design already plans with recycled and recyclable materials.


In terms of price, secondary raw materials often cannot keep up with primary raw materials. This would change if the environmental pollution caused by extraction were to be priced in. Hence, 88 percent of the respondents are in favor of promoting recycled raw materials by an appropriate pricing policy.

When it comes to water quality, too, it is important to start at the source: 91 percent of survey participants want those causing pollution with for example nitrate, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals to be made aware of their responsibilities. The favored measures for water protection are more investment in water treatment in industry (67 %); stricter testing in product development and approval procedures (51 %); hazard analysis for emerging substances (50 %).

When the survey was conducted at the beginning of February 2020, respondents clearly saw the European Green Deal as an opportunity, with 86 percent endorsing the initiative. 73 percent also see the European Green Deal as an opportunity in economic terms.

Regarding investments, is the environmental industry setting a good example? 74 percent state that their own company invests in environmental technologies. Most investments are targeted at raising energy efficiency and saving energy, at waste management and renewable energies.

And what possibilities are there in the private sphere to do something for the environment in everyday life? 78 percent of the IFAT Environmental Index respondents reduce the amount of plastic in their everyday lives, 70 percent increasingly separate waste, 58 percent use more eco-products. 45 percent eat less meat and 45 percent increasingly use public transport, trains and bikes.

IFAT cannot take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. “But environmental technologies are becoming more and more important and we are looking forward to bringing this unique trade fair network back together live in 2022,” states Stefan Rummel. A digital offer is also being developed.

The online survey was conducted by the independent polling institute "IfaD" on behalf of IFAT in February 2020. 2,992 industry experts (visitors to IFAT 2018 and registered exhibitors for IFAT 2020) from Germany and abroad took part.


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