Plastic packaging: Between debate and facts

At a time when politicians are increasingly taking measures to minimize packaging waste, the debate surrounding plastic packaging in particular is coming into focus. Policymakers are pursuing various approaches, including the PPWR (Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive), to help reduce waste and conserve resources.

The “Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung” (GVM) (english: Society for Packaging Market Research) recently published a new study that provides interesting insights into the topic. Plastic packaging is often at the center of the discussion, partly in order to pursue symbolic politics. However, a look at the figures shows that plastic packaging does have its place due to its low weight - 24 g on average compared to 116 g without plastic.

The discussion about replacing plastic packaging with other materials therefore raises an important question: Does this actually lead to a reduction in packaging waste and conservation of resources?

The GVM study shows that replacing just 10% of plastic packaging with other materials would lead to a 10-20% increase in waste and a 10-14% increase in CO2 emissions. This creates a conflict in the EU, as on the one hand the use of plastic packaging should be reduced, but on the other hand greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced.

Our opinion is clear: packaging should be reduced to a minimum. Where packaging is not necessary, it should be omitted. If packaging is necessary, as little material as possible should be used. Nevertheless, a general condemnation of plastics can lead to other problems.

We think that plastics must be evaluated as one of many materials. Depending on the product, plastic can be the most reasonable material, but of course it is not always. A differentiated view of the use of plastics is crucial in order to find a sustainable and effective solution to the packaging problem. We have already written about the versatility of packaging materials in an earlier blog post and examined the respective advantages and disadvantages.

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