Although packaging of all kinds is becoming lighter and slimmer, private consumption is increasing significantly. Industry associations know exactly what is causing this.

According to a study, despite efforts to reduce the use of materials, people in Germany are using more and more packaging.

In private households, consumption grew from 1991 to 2020 to 8.7 million tons and thus by 14 percent, as calculated by the Society for Packaging Market Research on behalf of several industry associations. “It’s a bit like hare and hedgehog,” explained Kim Cheng, Managing Director of the German Packaging Institute. It is true that packaging has become lighter and slimmer over the past 30 years. “But any progress is eaten up by growing consumption.”

Paper, cardboard and cardboard in the first place

According to the study, the amount of paper, cardboard and cardboard packaging has increased by more than half since reunification. With around 3.3 million tons, they account for the largest share of private consumption. The amount of plastic packaging has more than doubled, weighing almost 2.1 million tons in 2020. Glass packaging, on the other hand, was used much less frequently.

Material consumption increases despite smaller packs

“If we were still consuming the same number of products today as we were 30 years ago, we could do without 1.7 million tons of packaging a year,” the associations said. Accordingly, not only more is bought. Because households are getting smaller, people in the supermarket are also turning to smaller pack sizes – which increases material consumption overall. The Packaging Institute emphasized that packaging cannot be slimmed down indefinitely. If you want less packaging, you have to change your consumer behavior.