© library_mistress / Flickr.com

Collection boxes for packaging waste are used rather rarely. Despite their environmental awareness, many consumers see the opening of the packaging as a worthwhile experience before using the product. © library_mistress, Flickr.com

Take back obligation

Supermarkets, chemists and department stores: Having passed through the checkout, customers can leave the outer packaging of their products in special containers, separated into different types of material. However, not many people leave behind the carton of their face cream or the shrinkwrap round a cucumber. When it comes to online purchases, on the other hand, customers are far more willing to send back the packaging.

THE REST OF THE STUFF GOES IN THE BOX

 © Holger / Flickr. com

According to a recent ruling by Germany’s Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, traders must take back outer packaging even if the merchandise it contained had not been produced by themselves. © Holger, Flickr. com

The more the outer packaging of merchandise is left behind by customers in shops, the more manufacturers are likely to respond with a reduction in packaging. But the collection boxes behind the checkouts are rather slow to fill up. Despite an increase in environmental awareness, many consumers see the opening of the packaging as a worthwhile experience before they start using the product.

Furthermore, many are not really aware what counts as outer packaging. The term only covers packaging that acts as advertising media and which does not serve hygiene or protection purposes. Two years ago the volume of outer packaging collected by the industry was around 410,000 metric tonnes of plastic and about 3,120,000 metric tonnes of cardboard.

Scandinavian collection points

The furniture giant IKEA has made sustainability a top priority. All the furniture showrooms of this large Swedish corporation have collection points where customers can return the outer packaging (i.e. cardboard and plastic) as well as glass, metal, batteries, electronic devices and energy-saving bulbs for environment-friendly disposal.

Moreover, anyone who purchased goods from IKEA after 25 August 2014 has a special right of return, which means that the purchase price is reimbursed to the customer in full. All they need to do is show the receipt or invoice. Following the motto “Space for Something New”, IKEA takes back not only the outer packaging upon delivery, but also the old furniture.

Since August 2014 IKEA takes back not only any goods purchased at its stores (upon production of the receipt), but also all types of packaging. © Inter IKEA Systems B.V.
The forms of packaging that were used most frequently by German companies in 2012 were paper, cardboard and carton, followed by plastic, glass and wood.  © Inter IKEA Systems B.V.
In 2013 the volume of outer packaging collected by the industry was around 410,000 metric tonnes of plastic and about 3,120,000 metric tonnes of cardboard. © Africa Studio, fotolia.com
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