Less plastic-wrapped produce, more recycling, doing away with plastic straws and cutlery: Germany's Environment Ministry has issued a plan to make the country less of a "throwaway society."
Environment Minister Svenja Schulze on Monday announced a plan designed to tackle levels of plastic waste in Germany and beyond.
The plan includes reducing excess plastic products and packaging, making packaging and other products more environmentally friendly, using more recycled materials and reducing the amount of plastics in biowaste.
The Environment Ministry also called for more international commitment to reduce sea garbage and to find more sustainable uses of plastic.
"With these measures, we are reversing the trend in the use of plastics," Schulze said in a statement. "We produce far too much plastic in our consumer and throwaway society."
The five-point plan in brief
The ministry's proposal advocates the following five steps to drastically reduce plastic waste:
In many instances, plastic packaging, such as for loose fruits and vegetables, can be replaced with an adhesive label, the ministry said. Other alternatives, such as increasing the availability of drinkable tap water and doing away with microplastics in cosmetics by 2020, were also proposed.
The ministry also called single-use plastic, such as cutlery and straws, a "global issue" and would support a European-wide ban on such plastic items. Schulze pointed to the success of similar recent legislation banning single-use plastic shopping bags from many stores.
Read more: 5 single-use plastics the EU should ban
On an international level, the ministry noted Germany's €50 million ($56.8 million) investment in the export of technology that removes sea garbage. It called plastic waste "a global challenge that does not stop at borders."
Read more: Plastic waste and the recycling myth
Germany's BDE federation for waste disposal, water and raw material businesses welcomed the basic direction of the plan, but called for more measures. It said that many of the measures mentioned in the five-point plan, such as the EU Plastics Strategy and the Packaging Act, have long since been adopted and that more needed to be done to create a market for recycled materials.
dv/msh (AFP, dpa)