man Has eaten the bread, the iced tea drink or the new charging cable plugged in, is the packaging is just a Nuisance. The protective shell loses its purpose and leads to poor Ökogewissen and more effort, because you need to dispose of.

“consumers don’t want the packaging actually, you are only interested in the content. But a yogurt you can transport only-Packed home – without it is impossible or at least very cumbersome,” says Roland Hischier, life cycle assessment expert at the research institution Empa. “In particular food packaging made of solve, therefore, regularly Controversial. Although the production of the content burden on the environment is often much stronger.”

The topic of moving: a wholesale distributor to be attacked in Public regularly because of seemingly unnecessary packaging. New shops set to “Zero Waste”, zero waste, and be celebrated for it. Environmental organisations driving campaigns against plastic, and always new pictures of dead animals in the oceans of the world make consumers affected. Retailers such as Migros and Coop are therefore under pressure and try to turn with fees on plastic customer bags to move to environmental friendly behavior.

The waste mountain is growing

in Spite of growing environmental awareness, prosperity, and comfort for more and more garbage. About 716 kilograms of so-called municipal waste from households and businesses to fall in this country, annually per capita. Switzerland is one of the top riders in Europe, the EU average is 487 pounds per head. Worldwide, only 14 percent of plastic waste is recycled – no matter whether the packaging is recyclable or not. And still, no improvement is in sight: The Federal office for the environment predicts a further increase in the amount of waste.

What can we do about it? The search for the solution is engaged in the research, business and policy alike. For example, the food scientists Selçuk Yildirim. He is Director of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), the centre for food production and packaging and is researching the materials of the future.

“The most important function of packaging is to serve as a barrier between the contents and the environment,” he says. Say: carbon dioxide allowed to escape from the beverage, and it can’t penetrate through the packaging, the milk is bad. The ideal packaging combines the necessary functions with the least possible environmental damage.

what is the status of packaging to the LCA?

materials of the future

it is Important that the materials will be better in the future recyclable, says Yildirim: “Today, they often consist of several layers that have different characteristics: against moisture and gases, protect, beautiful printable and stability. Currently you can separate the bad from each other.” That’s why mono would be developed materials that can combine all of the properties and, thus, better for Recycling.

another focus of research is on so-called active packaging, oxygen absorbing, and thus prevent, for example, in the case of baking molds were formed. Also of antimicrobial films and edible casings is fiddled in Wädenswil. In addition, the research group of Selçuk Yildirim materials from sustainable raw materials. Special interest you have in the production of packaging waste, which is incurred anyway in the production of food. Such packaging could consist of, for example, from Gluten, whey or potato skins.

hopefuls circular economy

But the solution to the waste problem can’t burden on the shoulders of science. Future researcher Martina Kühne sees the most promising way in the circular economy, i.e. a System in which all waste is reused, and the responsibility for more from the producers. Resources, emissions, waste production and energy waste should be minimized by Closing Material and energy cycles. As it is, for example, the company Friday to do with compostable clothing or Food Start-up ZüriChips with Chips from old bread.

It put a lot of hope that war with such approaches, the excesses of the consumer society in the grip, says Kühne: “Today we can dispose of our waste according to the “Out of sight, out of mind”principle, anywhere in the world. But the more we slow down cycles, reduce and close, the more local you will have to deal with all the consequences of the consumption of apart and also take responsibility.” This necessitated a rethink and not be done from today to tomorrow.

economy has no other option

“A product completely sustainable, is a complex and not always feasible in the short term,” says Judith Walls, Professor for sustainability management at the University of St. Gallen. The most effective and fastest solution to the waste and packaging problem is, of course, to consume simply less.

nevertheless, she is convinced that companies will soon have no choice other than to make the Transition to the circular economy. “In the economy, a massive movement is felt, will change the way companies work.” Many Investment and insurance companies would always make higher demands on the sustainability of companies, because they do not classify it as a risk, if they take the necessary measures. “And if you stop the flow of money, the company usually pretty quickly,” says Walls.

reusable, recyclable, compostable

A system change, says Thomas Dyllick, President of the Association of Prism, the different companies and retailers such as Aldi, Emmi and Unilever have joined together need to sign up for the circular economy. “The Transition is not only inevitable, but in the EU, of course, already been ushered in. Hence, it is mandatory for Switzerland, since the company can offer no separately solutions.”

the fact that the responsibility for Closing the circuit to the producer will located have this as an incentive to develop from the beginning, sensible solutions. “In the case of packaging, this means that you have to be either reusable, recyclable or compostable,” says Dyllick. The willingness to change is increasingly felt, it is the courage lacked, but still to make the big steps.

Also in the policy seems to have recognized this: The city of Geneva prohibits from 2020, disposable plastic, and also the EU has adopted such a ban. In the national Council by the end of 2018, despite Lobbying by the retail industry, a Motion that the environmental Commission approved, the less plastic waste and disposable products. With the postulates of the two Ständeräte Ruedi Noser (FDP), and Beat Vonlanthen (CVP) called on the Federal Council also recently to take advantage of the opportunities of the circular economy and to check, where barriers and tax incentives are set can be reduced.

Faster solution with reusable systems

For all the euphoria, there are also critical voices. “The circular economy is an important Vision, but this requires cooperation of many different actors, and is therefore extremely complex in implementation. Many questions are still open,” says Greenpeace spokesman Yves Zenger. The current economic system based on endless consumption and disposable culture, have devastating consequences, and a paradigm shift was necessary. Parallel to the development of the circular economy, the need to reduce urgently the sheer amount of garbage quickly.

Zenger looks to alternative delivery and distribution systems, which are based on the recovery and reusability, to tackle as the best strategy to the problem of Waste. It would be faster. “Only returnable delivery systems can stop the vicious circle of waste and pollution to break through the one-way packaging caused ecological and social catastrophe. Even if the major requires logistical changes and investments, it is more concrete and faster to implement than the implementation of the circular economy.”

retailers are fighting back solid

It had to apply the ‘polluter pays’ principle – the responsibility lies with the consumer goods manufacturers and retailers. Today, you would feel this is still too little, and a massive fight back, as currently, the “clean rap” in Bern.

The Greenpeace spokesman says: “retailers such as Migros and Coop celebrate every single one of plastic – exempt fruit and vegetables in places open to the public. At the same time bring you more and more disposable, Convenience-packaged products on the shelf. So that you create the wrong incentives, and boost the waste of literally.”

What I can contribute as a Consumer, specifically for the protection of the environment?

This article has been of observer.ch. More exciting articles, see www.beobachter.ch