Germans support plastics ban, survey shows

A large majority of German consumers, 79 percent, supported the European Union’s ban on many disposable plastic products, according to a new YouGov study .

Only 29 percent of Germans believed that there is already sufficient environmentally-friendly packaging available in supermarkets and shops.

The purchasing behavior of Germans reflected this sentiment, with 72 percent preferring to buy products that generate as little packaging waste as possible.

“German consumers are sensitized to the subject of packaging waste and are already actively trying to avoid packaging waste when purchasing,” said Daniela Loeck, senior consultant at YouGov.

Some 46 percent of Germans had avoided purchasing a product because of plastic packaging and more than half said they would even change their main shopping location if another supermarket nearby offered environmentally-friendly packaging.

“Retailers and companies across all product categories should take consumers’ demands seriously and improve their offers in terms of environmental friendliness,” added Loeck.

In particular, older German consumers were more attentive to packaging waste, with 81 percent of respondents aged 60 and over saying they want to avoid waste when selecting products in supermarkets.

As the age of respondents decreased, however, German consumers paid comparatively less attention to avoiding plastic waste when choosing products in the shops.

According to a recent EU decision, from 2021 onwards, there will be a plastic ban in place on all products for which non-plastic alternatives already exist.

These include disposable plastic plates and cutlery as well as straws and plastic cotton swabs. Containers and cups made of foamed polystyrene will also be banned.

In February, German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze met with representatives of large retailers and manufacturers as well as environmental and consumer associations to discuss the avoidance of superfluous plastic packaging in Germany.

Schulze said she had “no patience at all with cucumbers shrink-wrapped in foil, fruit and vegetables packed in plastic trays, more and more sausage and cheese pre-portioned in packaging”.

The German environment minister said she expected “retailers and manufacturers to commit themselves to using alternatives to plastic across the board” by the time the next meeting takes place in fall.