New IK study: Use of paper composites frequently constitutes greenwashing / Mixed materials hard to recycle
Replacing plastic packaging with paper composites is not a patent remedy in ecological terms, according to a study conducted by packaging market research company Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung (GVM, Mainz / Germany; The study was commissioned by the German association for plastic packaging and films Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen (IK, Bad Homburg;

Packaging made of paper composites may currently be experiencing a boom – the study says its share of the relevant market volume is set to increase to around 4% by 2025. But this is due primarily to “good marketability in times of general plastic bashing and not to a better eco-balance,” said Isabell Schmidt, who is responsible for circular economy issues at IK: “Replacing plastic packaging with paper composites is greenwashing.” This is because calculations drawn up by GVM show that paper composites generate more packaging waste – an average of 40% more material is needed to wrap the same quantity of product.

In addition, the material mix of paper and plastics causes problems for waste paper recycling. The IK is even critical of the fact that paper composites are replacing plastic packaging that is not currently recyclable or is only recyclable to a limited extent – this is jeopardising the “optimisation of recyclability in the plastic packaging market”.

GVM sums up its study in a cautiously formulated recommendation for action: “Decision-makers at bottling and distribution companies should carefully weigh up and distinguish whether a packaging solution made from a paper-based composite material genuinely represents environmental progress, or whether further optimisation of the recyclability and material efficiency of the plastic packaging would constitute the more ecologically meaningful solution.”

It was not possible to obtain a reaction to the new study from paper and film industry packaging association Industrieverband Papier- und Folienverpackung (IPV, Frankfurt / Germany; prior to going to press. It can, however, be assumed that the association will not share the IK’s negative attitude to paper composite packaging.
06.05.2021 [247550-0]
Published on 06.05.2021
IK-Studie: Einsatz von Papierverbunden ist oft GreenwashingGerman version of this article...

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