Disposal of lightweight and metal packaging waste in Germany and Austria - a comparison of eco-efficiency
By adopting the European Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste in 1994, producer responsibility for packaging material has been initiated in the EU. The implementation in the member states occurred in different ways. On behalf of the Austrian ARA AG, a comparative analysis of the eco-efficiency of household lightweight and metal packaging waste management in Germany and Austria has been conducted. The comparison is premised on an analysis of the legal bases (Packaging Ordinances) and on established mass balances. The eco-efficiency has been assessed by evaluation of cost structures and resulting greenhouse gas balances. The systems in Germany and Austria show some basically differences. In Austria, in the reference year 2012 only one system operator offers dispensation of all kinds of packaging waste materials from households. In contrast, in Germany ten system operators are competing. This leads to a minor complexity and less administrative efforts in Austria. In addition there is no deposit requirement in Austria. Furthermore, lightweight and metal packaging waste in Germany has to be collected separately nationwide. This is the case in most areas of Austria, too. However, in some regions only fractions that are recyclable with high-quality are collected selectively. The remaining lightweight packaging is systematically collected together with residual waste going to energy recovery; corresponding costs are refunded by the Austrian system. These differences e.g. lead to diverse qualities of the waste collected. In Germany, about 35 wt.-% of non-packaging material can be found in the separate collection. In Austria, the percentage of impurities appeared to be substantially lower (20 wt.-%). Also the licensing level of lightweight and metal packaging from households is higher for Austria (Austria: 76 wt. %, Germany: 56 to 70 wt.-%). Looking at the ecological efficiency of the Austrian system, higher rates of reused material lead to higher greenhouse gas savings per collected amount of lightweight and metal packaging - even if the German deposit system is included. Comparing the results per capita, the savings by the dual system in Germany are still lower. Involving the deposit packaging amount, the savings per capita get higher for the packaging disposal in Germany. The economical comparison shows minor system costs per licensed amount in Austria. Reasons are lower specific costs for sorting and collection due to a higher licensing level and the minor percentage of impurities in the separate collection. The costs of the deposit system in Germany are not included, but would certainly imply further cost advantages for the Austrian system. Overall the minor system complexity and the higher efficiency of the collection system lead to ecologic and economic benefits for the Austrian dual system for disposal of lightweight and metal packaging waste.
Fulda University of Applied Sciences, University Department Food Technology; Betriebswirtschaftliches Institut für Abfall- und Umweltstudien