Working Group 2

Working Group 2

Closing packaging cycles

Global plastic production is increasing at a dramatic rate. Nearly 350 million tons of plastic were produced in 2017, compared with 230 million in 2005. Around 25-40 percent of this is for packaging with a very short lifespan. It is used to extend the shelf life of food and a host of other goods. It also makes them easier to transport. In many countries, however, a large amount of plastic packaging ends up in the environment instead of the recycling bin.

Making packaging waste valuable; Collecting and recycling plastic waste and creating an effective materials cycle.

The task of working group 2 is to close packaging cycles.
Representatives from business, civil society, politics and science work together to develop joint approaches for collecting and recycling packaging waste. They aim to develop a tool box that will enable packaging manufacturers, the consumer goods industry and retail to step up to their responsibility. This will help establish collection and recycling systems based on the principle of extended producer responsibility.

Objectives of the working group

The group aims to raise awareness about the value of packaging materials and establish an effective materials cycle.
We want waste to be seen as a resource. We want to support the creation of efficient take-back and recycling systems for packaging waste, and to create incentives for citizens to participate in these schemes. We want to involve informal workers and recycling companies.


The working group will create a toolbox for collecting, sorting and recycling systems. It will use findings from analyses of recycling systems in different countries as a guide here. Core areas of focus include extended producer responsibility, incentive systems for citizens and the integration of the informal sector.

Existing circular systems must be set up across the globe to ensure there is a lasting change in the way we deal with waste. Extended producer responsibility is a key concept here.

Special focus will be placed on networking between experts in different countries and on collaboration with partners in Africa and Asia. Ties with business associations and networks in these regions will be expanded and intensified. Appropriate tools will then be used in pilot projects to establish and expand circular economy systems for plastic packaging that have been tailored to local contexts.

To establish a circular economy that works on a global scale, we have to think above and beyond national borders. The working group will therefore enable experts from different countries to exchange information during conferences and workshops. Information on existing initiatives will be used to adapt tried-and-tested tools to individual country needs and implement new initiatives.

The working group will create a "toolbox" for collecting and recycling packaging waste based on analyses of examples in different countries. The central question here is how extended producer responsibility systems can be created and expanded. In concrete terms, this means ensuring that businesses bringing packaged goods to market help finance and organise the collection and recycling of packaging waste. This includes above all legal conditions, incentive systems for citizens and ways of integrating the informal sector. The toolbox provides opportunities for discussion during the planning phase and space for orientation during pilot projects and dialogue processes.

Good concepts, however, are not enough. We need to involve people who actually collect and recycle packaging waste. We also need citizens to put plastic waste in the designated containers instead of throwing it into the street or burning it. To this end, the working group collaborates with partners in Africa and Asia that are pursuing the same goals. They use existing networks for this, expanding collaborations and aligning themselves with other initiatives. Informal waste collection workers and recycling companies are also involved in this process and the potential of social entrepreneurship is being harnessed.

Leads & Contact

Helmut Schmitz

Helmut Schmitz

Duales System - Der Grüne Punkt

+49 (0)2203 937 253

Christina Jäger

Christina Jäger

The Grameen Creative Lab

+49 (0)611 986 82 635

All Working Groups

Working group 1

Conserving resources

Working group 2

Closing loops for packaging

Working group 3

Closing loops for electronic waste

Working group 4

Improving framework conditions on municipal level