EnvironmentPackaging waste in Germany reaches new high

At the occasion of the European Week for Waste Prevention, the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) published a report on the emergence and recycling of packaging in Germany today. Accordingly, packaging waste totaled 18.7 million tons in 2017.

For this report, the quantities of sales, transport and reusable packaging, packaging of pollutant-containing contents as well as disposable components of reusable packaging were measured, all of which were delivered to recycling plants. However, not all packages are recyclable since plastic packaging is often polluted and therefore excluded from recycling through upstream testing and sorting processes. For more accurate rates, this calculation methodology will be changed in the future.

These are more details:

  • With 18.7 million tons, packaging waste increased by three percent in 2017 compared to the previous year. From this amount, 8.84 million tons (47 percent) can be accounted for by end-users. This corresponds to a private waste volume of 107 kg on average per capita per year.

  • On average, nearly 70 percent of the total packaging waste was recycled. However, the recycling rate varied significantly between the different packaging materials. The recycled material is comparatively high for glass (84.4 percent), paper/cardboard (87.6 percent) and steel (92.2 percent), but low for plastics (49.7 percent) and wood (25.8 percent).

  • On the one hand, economic growth contributes to increased packaging consumption, because a wider range of products induces more packaging. On the other hand, consumer habits, such as the desire for resealability or dosage dispenser, lead to higher material consumption and make recycling more difficult. The trend towards smaller portions, mail-order sales and take-away consumption also leads to greater packaging waste.

Maria Krautzberger, president at UBA, commented: "Despite the good recycling rate, we must continue to strengthen recycling and the use of recycled materials to save resources. In order to significantly reduce the environmental impact of packaging, it is usually not sufficient to use only other materials for disposable packaging. It is better to use reusable packaging, to use less packaging material, to make packaging less expensive and, at the same time, to think about recyclability. "

Source: German Federal Environmental Agency

More information and the report