Leaving out superfluous plastic packaging, using more reusable packaging and producing disposable packaging in such a way that it can be recycled – these are the greatest levers for better handling of packaging according to a study for the WWF. On Tuesday, the environmental organization published the study “Packaging turnaround now. How the change for a circular economy for plastics in Germany succeeds ”presented together with the consulting company System IQ.

While plastic waste is a problem in the landscape and water in many emerging countries, in Germany it is important to start recycling plastic packaging, said Sophie Herrmann from System IQ. According to the study, over 50 percent of plastic packaging in Germany is currently incinerated, only 30 percent are recycled and 18 percent exported – their whereabouts are unclear. These numbers are fatal from an ecological point of view. If the consumption and recycling of plastic packaging continues to develop as before, around 5 percent of CO 2 will go in twenty years

The study predicts the budget that Germany has at its disposal if it wants to meet the Paris climate targets, solely for the production and use of plastic packaging. But it is also economically harmful: 95 percent of the value of packaging is lost after a short period of use, the study calculates.

The primary goal of waste policy must therefore be to avoid packaging. “We cannot recycle ourselves,” says WWF expert Laura Griestop. Merely by the fact that retailers omit unnecessary packaging and that reusable packaging – such as bottles or boxes in mail order – would be used, a third of the packaging could be saved. “With this study, politics and business now have a timetable,” says Bernhard Bauske from WWF. Politicians must set a new framework for dealing with plastic, “innovative companies must no longer be punished”. With the existing collection structures and experience with reusable systems, Germany has good prerequisites for a change of direction.

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