Around 200,000 companies have registered with the packaging register since January 1, 2019. Compared to 2017, this is an increase of 17 percent. This means that around three times as many companies are still taking responsibility for their products today as they were four years ago. But other rules still seem to apply to online marketplaces. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) therefore proposes to oblige operators of online marketplaces to ensure compliance with the Packaging Act on their platforms.
“Online marketplaces can also do more to protect the environment. We therefore recommend that in future, all online platforms check before selling goods whether the sellers have complied with the obligation to register in the packaging register. This should be laid down in law, ”explains Dirk Messner, President of the Federal Environment Agency. Since January 1, 2019, manufacturers of packaging, which are typically generated as waste by private end consumers, have been required to register in the packaging register.
Commit online marketplaces to more recycling
Packaging disposal has started to move through the Packaging Act. Around 80 to 90 percent – the packaging involved in the dual systems actually goes into recycling and not incineration. In the case of plastic packaging, the share was around 58.5 percent in 2019 – around 50 percent more than in the previous year.
“Our packaging is recycled to a large extent. I can clearly contradict the fairy tale that everything that ends up in a yellow bin or a yellow sack is burned anyway, ”says Dirk Messner. Dem UBA According to the Packaging Act, it makes an important contribution to climate protection. Every ton of plastic that is recycled as a material saves around two tons of CO2. Calculated on the total amount of mechanically recycled plastic in Germany, this results in a saving of around 900,000 tons of CO2 per year.
Increasing amount of packaging waste
In 2018, 18.9 million tons of packaging waste were generated in Germany, including businesses. That corresponds to 227.5 kg per head. End consumers alone produced 8.9 million tons of packaging waste. Converted per capita and year, that was 107.2 kg. There are ways to counteract this, explains Dirk Messner: “Many products can also be sold with less packaging or even unpacked, for example large parts of the fruit and vegetable range in the supermarket.”
Recycling rate increases
A total of 5.3 tons of packaging from private end users was recycled – an increase of 13 percent in the amount of recycled packaging. For plastics it is 50 percent. “The recycling quantities have two drivers: The higher quotas of the Packaging Act and the higher quantities involved in systems “, explains Gunda Rachut, board member of Central Office for the Packaging Register Foundation (ZSVR), the dynamic that the LUCID packaging register has generated in recycling. But there is still a lot of upside potential here too.
Online marketplaces: using the potential of reusable shipping packaging
Reusable shipping packaging is a good way of avoiding packaging waste, especially for online retail and online marketplaces. But the trend is going exactly in the wrong direction. For example, the reusable share of beverage packaging has been falling for years. In 2018 it was only 41.2 percent. According to UBA, a trend reversal is urgently needed and possible. In the opinion of the Federal Environment Agency, returnable bottles should be offered at the same or even lower prices than one-way. Significantly more reusable shipping packaging could also be used in online trading, which customers can then return free of charge.
Manufacturers are increasingly using recyclates
Where reusable packaging is not an option, the packaging should not only be designed to save material, but also Recyclates contain. In principle, a lot more packaging could be made from recycled materials from the yellow sack / bin. So far, they have been used in packaging for cleaning agents and paints.
“I see a lot more potential there. Significantly more recyclates can also be used for plant pots, pallets or hardware store items. Our goal should be that packaging made from recycled packaging waste from the yellow bin becomes the norm. This is the only way we can close cycles and reduce the need for raw materials, ”explains Dirk Messner.
Prices for recyclate are still too high
The EU single-use plastic directive now prescribes the use of recycled materials in non-returnable PET bottles of 25 percent from 2025 and 30 percent in all non-returnable plastic bottles from 2030. The new action plan for the circular economy as part of the European Green Deal also aims to significantly increase the rate of use of secondary materials. The crux of the matter, however, is that the price per ton of recycle is on average around 400 to 600 euros higher than that of a new product, as confirmed by the UBA. Many manufacturers shy away from the high costs and prefer to use new goods, i.e. non-recycled plastic.
Especially when it comes to the design and packaging of products that are increasingly sold via online marketplaces and online retail in addition to stationary retail, there is still a lot of potential to avoid waste. According to the UBA, it is important to observe four rules during the development process:
- Save on packaging or not let it arise in the first place
- Just insert the packagingwhen it is really necessary
- New innovations Allow companies to develop recyclable packaging
- In product and packaging design Use recyclable materials (recycled materials).
The representatives of UBA hope that this will have a positive effect on the recycling rate in order to avoid waste. However, Dirk Messner admits: “We are still a throwaway society.” (Christiane Manow-Le Ruyet)