BERLIN, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Germans produced 18.16 million tons of plastic packaging in 2016, averaging 220 kilograms per capita, which is more than that of any other country in the European Union, data revealed on Thursday.
The per capita use of plastic packaging in Germany is well above the European average of 167.3 kilograms, according to the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA).
Despite the increasing awareness of the environmental impact of plastic, the wastage was 0.05 percent higher than in 2015.
"We produce far too much packaging waste," UBA president Maria Krautzberger commented on the "sad top position".
Encouraging recycling and using recycled materials was imperative in order to conserve resources, she suggested.
Although almost half of the waste, 47 percent, was generated by private consumers, Krautzberger recommended that wastage must be stopped even before it reaches the end user.
"Above all, we must avoid waste, preferably as early as during production by avoiding unnecessary and unnecessarily material-intensive packaging," she said.
As reasons for the ever increasing demand for plastic, the German environmental agency pointed to a growing trend to add auxiliary products such as plastic spoons or measurement cups, smaller product portions, online mail orders as well as the growing take-away food and drink market.
Plastic consumption of private households in Germany has slightly decreased compared to the previous year, from 25 kilos per capita to 29.5 kilos.
The numbers also show that more glass and aluminum was used, suggesting that some plastic packaging had been replaced by other materials.
However, the manufacturing of glass and aluminum requires a high amount of energy. "Replacing plastic with other packaging materials does not always make ecological sense," warned Krautzberger.
The recycling rate of packaging materials varies greatly depending on the materials used. In total, 70 percent of packaging waste in Germany was recycled last year.
With recycling rates around 90 percent, glass, aluminum, paper and steel are much more likely to find their way into the circular economy than plastics which are recycled at a rate of 49.7 percent. With a rate of 25 percent, wood products are at the bottom recycled materials.
In 2019 a new packaging law will impose higher quotas on companies responsible for recycling of packaging in Germany. In addition to that, the license fee for manufacturers of packaging will then also depend on how easily the packaging can be recycled.