More Packaging Waste in the Corona Year

78 kilograms per capita: This is how much packaging waste was collected from private households in Germany in 2020. That was an average of 6 kilograms more per person than in 2019.

In the Corona year 2020, many people were at home most of the time. One of the consequences: they consumed more at home, so they also threw more packaging waste into the garbage cans. As reported by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) according to preliminary results, the total volume of packaging waste, which is mainly collected in the yellow garbage can, glass or paper containers separately from residual waste, increased by almost 0.6 million tons or 9.3 percent to 6.5 million tons in 2020.

Particularly high volume of lightweight packaging

At 32 kilograms per person (a total of 2.7 million metric tons), so-called lightweight packaging accounted for the largest share of packaging waste collected from private households. Lightweight packaging is predominantly packaging made of plastics, light metals such as aluminum or tinplate, and composite materials. This was followed by glass packaging with 25 kilograms per resident(2.1 million metric tons) and packaging made of paper, cardboard, and paperboard with 20 kilograms per capita (1.7 million metric tons).

Thus, the per capita volume of paper, cardboard, and carton packaging collected from private households increased by 3 kilograms compared to 2019, while 2 kilograms more glass packaging were collected per capita. The per capita quantity of lightweight packaging did not change compared to the previous year.

79 percent of the packaging handed in was recycled

In 2020, a total of 6.4 million metric tons of the used sales packaging was handed over to waste treatment plants or recyclers after sorting. Of this, almost four-fifths (79 percent or 5.1 million tons) could be recycled. In this mechanical recycling process, the original material of the waste is retained, i.e. its chemical structure is not changed. 12 percent of packaging waste (0.8 million metric tons) was used for energy production, for example in combustion plants. The discrepancy of 67,000 metric tons between the amount collected and the amount disposed of is due, for example, to storage volumes at handling and sorting facilities as well as sorting losses. These quantities are not statistically evaluated and are therefore not shown.

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