Germany has introduced a five-point plan to combat plastic waste, in a bid to make the country less of a “throwaway society.”
In an action plan announced Nov. 26, the German environment ministry said it was aiming a “turnaround from more and more to less and less waste” with regards to packaging and short-lived items.
The blueprint, which aims to make consumption more sustainable in Germany “and possibly also in Europe,” will target unnecessary products and packaging and would place a ban “if necessary.” These will include disposable products, but also to microplastics intentionally used in cosmetics.
Additionally, under the new plan, companies will be encouraged to make their packaging more environmentally friendly and increase the role of reusable packaging. The new German packaging law will play a role here, with new licensing rules that would place higher fees on less environmentally friendly packaging.
Under the new law, with more plastic packaging required to be recycled, the number of recycling stations will also be expanded. The German government plans to increase plastic recycling targets from the present 36 percent to 63 percent by 2022.
Another area targeted by the action plan is the quality of biowaste in the country. By encouraging consumers to separate their waste more carefully, the quality of the compost produced could be considerably improved.
The final point of the plan will focus on increasing Germany's international efforts to fight marine litter. As part of this, the country will increase its aid donations to the cause, particularly to clean up the 10 rivers that are thought to account for 90 percent of the plastic waste in the world's seas. This will include a 50 million euro ($56.8 million) investment in a technology that cleans sea waste.
The action plan has been announced prior to implementation of the new German packaging act, which will come into force in 2019.
The new act aims to improve the existing law on packaging by focusing on recycling and the prevention of packaging waste. As part of the new law, an impartial central office will be set up to check that all sales packaging placed on the German market is licensed properly. This will be enforced by requiring all businesses active on the German market to register with the new central packaging registry.
In addition to a 63 percent plastics recycling target, a 90 percent recycling rate has been set for metal, glass, paper and board by 2022. The act will also encourage reusable packaging, setting a goal for reusable beverage packaging of 70 percent.
The German government will offer incentives for packaging producers to incorporate recyclability considerations into packaging design.