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Avoidance of plastics discharged into the environment through packaging An impulse paper on municipal policy options of German communities

Although the serious consequences of plastic discharges into the environment for marine and terrestrial ecosystems and for human health have become widely known in recent years, the production, consumption and (improper) disposal of plastic packaging continues to increase. Local decision-makers in particular have the influence to set direct impulses to limit and avoid the accumulation of plastic packaging waste in municipalities. This policy paper shows municipal policy options for enabling and supporting companies and consumers to reduce and avoid plastic packaging.

Core elements in the support of companies are various offers and activities for the establishment of a low-packaging product range and for the expansion of reusable systems. These include advising regionally based companies (individually or collectively), supporting self-regulation, awarding best practice examples, financial incentives and public relations work. In order to support consumers, a distinction is made between large-scale consumers, private households and kindergartens and schools. Large-scale consumers can exert an influence on the use of plastic packaging, particularly in their administration and at public events. Sustainable procurement as well as reusable system imperatives and single-use bans can make a clear difference here. Private consumers can be encouraged to become more aware of plastic packaging and guided to behavior change through improved infrastructure and public relations work. In addition, day-care centers and schools can bear the potential to draw attention to the problem at an early stage, e.g. through participatory activities, teaching sessions and excursions. The paper gives an overview of the current theoretical and practical state of municipal policy options and will be further developed.