The discussion about plastic waste is anything but new for German municipalities. In fact, as early as the 1980s, numerous German municipalities were experimenting with plastic waste prevention regulations and waste prevention in general. A further impetus for plastic waste prevention was provided in the early 1990s with the discussions on the introduction of a nationwide packaging ordinance.
Numerous one- to two-person households, an increase in mail-order business as well as the popular "to-go" culture are causing a steady rise in the consumption of plastic packaging in Germany. While approximately 1.8 million tons of plastic were produced per year in 2000, this figure had already risen to 3.1 million tons by 2016.
In order to counteract the problem of the constantly growing volume of packaging in Germany (Schüler, 2019), the Federal Government has promoted the strategy of waste avoidance over other strategies such as reuse, recycling and recovery or disposal strategies of packaging waste in the waste hierarchy of the Circular Economy Act.
Packaging volumes are continuously increasing in Germany. Plastic packaging, with its short lifespan and low global recycling rates, contributes to the accumulation of macro and micro plastics in the environment. Merely switching to glass and cardboard packaging does not appear to be an appropriate solution, as LCA studies suggest.
This article from the German magazine „masche“ portraits the joint project VerPlaPoS. The project examines consumer’s behavior concerning plastics and avoidance strategies at the point of sale.
This background paper was developed within the framework of the Innoredux joint research project and describes which materials shape the volume of packaging and packaging waste in Germany. Moreover, the paper outlines the most important German and European legal regulations relating to packaging in the context of the project.