C2 Background
Aluminium packaging as an ecologically viable solution in the take-away and delivery service sector

27.01.2021 According to a recent study by the German Packaging Institute (dvi) and the WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature), almost 83 percent of Germans pick up food and drinks from the supplier or have them delivered.

Disposable aluminium packaging convinces with a largely closed material cycle.
© Photo: Fotolia
Disposable aluminium packaging convinces with a largely closed material cycle.

More than three quarters of those surveyed would like to see sustainable packaging (78.5 percent). Recyclable disposable containers for disposal via the dual systems top the list of favourites with over 50 percent (51.5 percent). Private containers (31.6 per cent) and deposit containers of restaurants (24 percent) follow relatively far behind in second and third place.

Amendment of the Packaging Act

Almost simultaneously with the publication of the survey results, the German Federal Cabinet passed the draft amendment to the Packaging Act on 20 January 2021 and submitted it to the parliamentary procedure. The Bundestag and Bundesrat still have to agree. According to the cabinet resolution, the Packaging Act is to be amended to the effect that businesses with a shop area of 80 square metres or more that sell food or drinks away from home will be obliged to also offer reusable packaging for their products from 2023.

GDA (Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie – German Association of the Aluminium Industry) is convinced, however, that a legislative compulsion in favour of reusable packaging is not necessarily expedient from an economic and ecological point of view. This is because in practice it will happen in many cases that after collecting or delivering reusable take-away containers with food and eating it, consumers subsequently clean the container at home for hygienic reasons. After returning the container to the supplier, the supplier will probably clean the container a second time to comply with hygiene regulations.

The negative ecological impact of this action by the actors involved would be considerable. It is by no means scientifically proven and under the conditions outlined extremely questionable whether reusable solutions in the take-away sector are per se ecologically more advantageous than disposable solutions.

Recyclable disposable packaging

Instead, it makes sense to use recyclable disposable packaging that is collected, sorted and recycled via the dual systems. This is especially true for aluminium packaging, for which the material cycle is largely closed with a recycling rate of 93.2 percent in Germany.

Gregor Spengler, head of packaging, sustainability and recycling at GDA, states: "Aluminium is an ideal material to meet consumers' desire for more recyclable material. Compared to other materials, aluminium can be recycled almost infinitely without any loss of quality, so that the high material value is retained even after use."

The recycling of aluminium thus achieves maximum resource efficiency. The good conductivity of aluminium also enables energy-efficient heating or cooling of food. All in all, aluminium packaging offers a convincing economic and ecological packaging solution, also in the take-away and delivery service sector.