11 Policy Recommendations to Engage Consumers in Closing Packaging Loops

Many consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of (plastic) packaging. For just as many, the range of options between avoidance and recycling is a challenge. The scientific community as well as industry and non-governmental organisations are looking for ways to increase and optimise consumers involvement in packaging strategies. The cross-stakeholder German Club for Sustainable Packaging Solutions has formulated policy recommendations to help close packaging loops.

The volume of packaging is growing fast, fuelled among other things by increased online purchases and changes in consumption habits. In order to meet the increasing demands for climate protection and resource conservation, effective strategies are needed for the avoidance and reuse of packaging as well as the highest possible material recycling of the remaining disposable packaging.

“In order to be successful, circular packaging solutions always need consumers who accept them, buy them, use them, reuse them or dispose of them correctly in the end,” says Georg Abel of the Verbraucher Initiative. However, innovative solutions often come up against established behavioural routines, entrenched packaging myths, a lack of knowledge or an inadequate return infrastructure. “The diverse needs of users are often not sufficiently taken into account in the development of new circular solutions,” notes Stephan Schaller from the CSCP and project manager of the club. On the background of the policy recommendations, Schaller notes that “The recommendation are the result of an intensive search and discussion of effective interventions to urgent behavioural challenges in packaging”.

The recommendations are based on four central challenges in consumer behaviour that have been identified as priorities in the Club:

  • Promote environmentally-friendly packaging (incl. avoidance and multiple use)
  • Dismantle packaging myths
  • Facilitate recycling-friendly separation and sorting
  • Avoid littering

The Club for Sustainable Packaging Solutions was founded in 2019 as part of the European Consumer Insights Action Panel, an initiative by the CSCP with a focus on the behaviours of consumers. It is composed of stakeholders from the value chain, environmental and consumer organisations and academia. The club conducts research to shed light on consumer challenges to switching to circular packaging as well as tests interventions in bricks-and-mortar retail and a digital consumer community. Findings and results are translated into tools and workshop formats for (especially medium-sized) companies.

Behavioural science findings on prioritised challenges were compiled in the form of policy recommendations. Knowledge gaps were addressed through analyses and interventions as well as through interaction with a digital consumer community of around 100 participants. The Club’s policy recommendations for sustainable packaging solutions are aimed at political decision-makers, primarily the new German federal government.

Please to go our library to download the full policy recommendations (in German).

For further questions, please contact Stephan Schaller.