Consumption up 14% in the past 20 years / Increased demand for reduced sizes / “Next milestone must be the recyclability of packaging” – GVM study
More demand, more packaging: between 1991 and 2020, private consumption of packaging in Germany across all materials rose 1.04 mn t, or 14%, to 8.7 mn t, an increase primarily due to higher demand by end consumers, according to the German market research institute Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung (GVM, Mainz;

In its latest study on the development of consumer behaviour, volume and material efficiency of packaging, consumption of packaging in 2020 would have been 1.7 mn t lower if consumers were still buying the same quantity of products today as they were in 1991 and those goods were in packaging from that year.

In addition to the increased number of products consumed, structural effects and socio-demographic factors have also led to an increased demand for packaging material. Aspects such as a rise in smaller households and higher demand for reduced sizes of packaging contributed to the increase in packaging consumption with a further 0.9 mn t.

According to GVM, the increase in consumption was mitigated by the fact that, on average, packaging became lighter between 1991 and 2020. If packaging materials had not been optimised, consumption would have been higher by another 1.6 mn t in 2020. However, the study sees little scope for further efficiency gains in material use in the future.
Demand for plastics surges
For plastic packaging, nearly 25% of total volume in 2020, consumption more than doubled from 977,000 t in 1991 to 2.1 mn t in 2020. The additional use resulted in a significant plus of 1.4 mn t, while structural effects – such as the increased sales of 0.5-litre beverage bottles – had an additional impact of 485,000 t. By contrast, weight optimisations saved around 750,000 t of plastic waste during the period under review.

With 38%, paper and cardboard account for the largest share of the 8.7 mn t of packaging consumption in 2020, followed by glass (32%), plastics (24%), metal packaging (6%) and aluminium containers (2%).

Commenting on the survey results, Kim Cheng, managing director of the German packaging institute DVI (Berlin;, said, “Packaging has become lighter and slimmer over the past 30 years, but any savings were immediately eaten up by rising consumption.”

Related: German amendment of Packaging Act comes into force

The next milestone must be the recyclability of all packaging components and the increased use of secondary raw materials, so that only small quantities of virgin material are necessary in production, said Carl Dominik Klepper, chairman of the board of the German association for packaging and the environment, the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verpackung und Umwelt (AGVU, Berlin; The association commissioned the study with the DVI, the German plastic packaging industry association Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen (IK, Bad Homburg;, the German industrial association for paper and film packaging IPV (Frankfurt; and a domestic group representing the folding box industry.
24.06.2022 [250444-0]
Published on 24.06.2022

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