Covid-led consumption falls slightly in 2020 / More waste in households, decline in trade and industry
This is the first decline since 2009. The pandemic led to a slight decrease in packaging consumption in Germany in 2020. A total of 18.8 mn t of packaging waste was generated, 0.7% less than in 2019. According to the German Federal Environment Agency’s (UBA, Dessau; current report on the volume and recovery of packaging in Germany, this corresponds to a year-on-year per-capita decrease of 1.7 kg to an average of 225.8 kg of packaging waste per person.

Overall, demand for plastic packaging was stronger again. After 2019, the first year of falling consumption, sales went up again in 2020 – by 1.2% to 3.2 mn t. As a result of the lockdowns and production halts, there were noticeable declines on the one hand – for example in canteens, the restaurant industry, or the craft food sector. In other areas, demand for packaging increased, for example for food, disinfectants, and cleaning agents or for products in the DIY sector.

While demand for packaging in private households – which account for 46% of the total volume – increased across all materials, a significant decline was noticeable in the commercial sector. This is clearly evident in packaging made of steel (drums) or wood (pallets or crates); consumption in this area fell by 10% and 6.6%, respectively.

Related: Packaging consumption in Germany up 14% in the past 20 years

Recycling rates in Germany had increased for all packaging materials. Of the total packaging waste generated, 68.2% was sent to the final recycling process; most of the rest was incinerated. The individual materials had the following recycling rates (according to UBA, these are not comparable with pre-2019 rates due to a new assessment method):
  • Glass 79.7%
  • Paper and cardboard 84.2%
  • Ferrous metals 87.5%
  • Aluminium 62.1%
  • Plastics 46.2%
  • Wood 32.6%
“Overall, Covid had a dampening effect on our packaging consumption. However, there is reason to fear that this will not last long, similar to the situation with greenhouse gas emissions,” said UBA president Dirk Messner. “That is why the goal remains to reduce packaging consumption in Germany. This can be achieved with reusable or lighter packaging. And if packaging cannot be avoided, it should be easy to recycle.”
09.11.2022 [251386-0]
Published on 09.11.2022
Verpackungen: Corona lässt Verbrauch 2020 leicht sinkenGerman version of this article...

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