18 Nov 2019, 13:33
Benjamin Wehrmann

Packaging waste reaches new record level in Germany – environment agency

Clean Energy Wire

The amount of packaging waste accruing in Germany has reached a new record high, the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) found in a report on waste generation and recycling. About 18.7 million tonnes of packaging waste were accumulated in the country in 2017, the latest year for which comprehensive data is available, the UBA said, which roughly translates into 226 kilogrammes of waste per capita in this category. The main reasons for greater waste generation were economic growth and changing habits, like the growing demand for portable food containers and mail-order shopping. "We use too much packaging. That's bad for the environment and for our resource consumption," said UBA head Maria Krautzberger. Waste should already be reduced during production, Krautzberger stated, adding that what was happening was instead the opposite, with products being put into multiple wrappings before they reach supermarket shelves. According to the UBA, recycling quotas in Germany are generally "good", with about 70 percent of all packaging being reused, while the remainder is mainly used for energy production. About 85 to 90 percent of all glass, paper and steel refuse was recycled, but less than half of all plastic waste was used several times.

Emissions in the waste sector in Germany, mostly outgassing on landfill sites, have declined substantially, from 38 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 1990 to less than 10 million tonnes in 2018 and the sector today has become an integral part of climate action, the UBA said. Waste contributes a little over 1 percent to Germany's total greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions generated from waste combustion, however, are accounted for in the energy sector's emissions balance. In an earlier study, the UBA said that 3.7 percent of Germany's final energy consumption is provided by using waste materials. In its climate action programme, Germany's government said it primarily wants to expand landfill aeration to further reduce the climate impact of waste, whereby methane is converted into carbon dioxide based on biogenic carbon.

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