Plastic, a product from crude oil, can be saved. For example, dishwasher tabs, which are individually packaged to protect them from moisture. Meanwhile, they are available with water-soluble film. Or in restaurants: the retail giant Metro is working with restaurateurs in France to develop a returnable deposit system to replace disposable packaging for oil, sauces and creams. New techniques could soon make their way into supermarkets, too: Instead of plastic, a wafer-thin, edible protective layer keeps fruit and vegetables fresh longer.
Examples like these are cited by the Environmental organization WWF in a new study on the packaging turnaround. With it the use of of plastic packaging massive drop. This is how Germany could reduce its plastic packaging waste by 40 percent by 2040, the authors of the eco-consultancy Systemiq have calculated.
The way we deal with plastic films, wrappers and trays would then be different. Today, they are often used only once in everyday life and thrown away again straight away. In 2018 alone, Germans accumulated a calculated 227.5 kilos of Packaging waste per capita. 39 kilos of this is plastic.
The pandemic has caused the amount of packaging to rise yet again
A good half is incinerated. The increased need for hygiene in the Pandemic with an additional increase in the amount of packaging and the trend towards the Online shopping with package volumes continuing to grow are not even included in the most recent figures available.
Germany thus consumes much more Resources, than the earth can supply, criticizes Laura Griestop, packaging expert at WWF. Despite the sophisticated waste system in Germany. This does not speak against yellow garbage cans and bags, says study author Sophie Herrmann: "Collecting is always right."It just doesn't run smoothly yet.
Households are getting smaller, but the amount of waste is increasing
Because firstly, the Waste volume. One reason for this is that households are getting smaller, and seniors and singles like to eat smaller portions. Secondly, packaging is often difficult to recycle because, for example, different films are welded together. Example of sliced cheese: one layer protects against light, another against high temperatures. A total of 33 percent of packaging in Germany is not recyclable recyclable, according to the analysis.
So it would also not be enough if only Plastic straws disappeared, says Griestop. Since July, they – like other disposable plastic products, such as Disposable cutlery and plates, cotton buds and balloon sticks – banned. WWF expert says: "We need less and better packaging." That is feasible. Just eliminating unnecessary packaging would reduce plastic waste by eight percent.
Edible packaging for fruit and vegetables already exists
Plastic packaging can be avoided, for example, with edible wrappers for fruit and vegetables. However, many types also have a robust shell by nature, so they do not have to be packaged at all Bowls and foils be offered.
plastic reduction, according to the study, is not only in the Fresh food counter conceivable: If, for example, cleaning agents were sold more frequently as concentrates, packaging could also be saved. The WWF is calling for incentives and standards to be created for this. Another adjusting screw: use packaging more often. In the transport sector or beverage bottles, Griestop sees "huge potential".
Environment Minister Schulze urges more reusable packaging
Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) is urging a much greater use of packaging waste in view of its continued growth Reusable packaging. "With more reusable packaging, we will reduce the flood of packaging, especially in the To-go area effectively," Schulze told our editorial team. The obligation for companies to offer customers reusable packaging, which will come into force in 2023, is already having an effect.
Meanwhile, France wants to reduce plastic use in supermarkets by law. A draft law would require retailers with storefronts larger than 400 square meters to use at least 20 percent of their space for reusable and refillable products starting in 2030. Manufacturers would then have to think more about how their packaging can be more ecological when they develop it.
In the Netherlands, consumers pay for residual waste by weight
Also the Collecting and separating of packaging waste should be improved. Even Germans, who like to think they are the best garbage collectors in the world, often sort their waste incorrectly. This is how plastic packaging often ends up in the residual waste garbage can instead of in the yellow containers. In the Netherlands, consumers pay for their Residual waste by weight. This could be an incentive for better separation, says study author Herrmann.