Packaging and Sustainability

Paper, Carton, and Cardboard

Manner and Scope of the Material’s Use

  • Approximately 58.7 % of paper production in Germany goes into packaging (source: Verband DIE PAPIERINDUSTRIE).
  • In accordance with VerpackV, the volume of paper, carton, and cardboard (in German, PPK, for papier-pappe-karton) packaging (corrugated board, folding cartons, cardboard boxes, sleeves, paper bags) was 6.4 million tonnes in 2009 (source: GVM).

Material Use During Manufacturing

  • PPK is based on renewable raw materials, either as a primary fiber from renewable wood (so-called broken or thinned wood) or as a secondary fiber from recycled waste paper.
  • According to a survey conducted by the Association of German Paper Manufacturers (Verband Deutscher Papierfabriken, or VDP) for the first time in 2007, the surveyed companies were able to provide clear proof of origin for 100 % of the wood used, of which the raw materials originate from sustainably managed forests. Certification systems such as PEFC or FSC verify this.
  • PPK packaging is made up of up to 100 % waste paper.

Collection / Sorting / Recycling

  • Waste paper recycling in Germany is based on a comprehensive, high-quality system for the separation of waste paper, and is in many regions based on an efficient collection system. A clean separation by the consumer ensures a high quality of the paper recycling.
  • At the end of their life, PPK packaging is recycled for raw material (waste paper recycling).
  • Waste paper recycling is a nearly closed material cycle. PPK for packaging purposes can be produced from packaging waste paper again.
  • Paper which has come into contact with food must fulfill special requirements. A paper fiber can be recycled seven to eight times.
  • Waste paper is a valuable and internationally traded secondary raw material with a considerably positive market value.
  • In 2020, the recycling rate was 89.4 % (source: UBA).

Development / Background / Outlook

  • Newly developed surface seals and equipment keep moisture, odors and other disruptive influences away from the product.
  • Equipment with microchips and electronic circuits, e.g. for safe drug administration.
  • Energy consumption per tonne of paper specifically has been reduced by over 16 p in Europe over the past 10 years.
  • 53 % of the primary energy used by the paper industry in Europe comes from renewable sources, e.g. biomass.

UBA Umweltbundesamt (2022): Aufkommen und Verwertung von Verpackungsabfällen in Deutschland im Jahr 2022.

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