all projects

Cost model for the disposal of single-use plastics


German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU)




Wuppertal Institute, INFA GmbH, okl & Partner

The assignment

In June 2019, the EU adopted a single-use plastics directive requiring Member States to introduce the “Extended Producer Responsibility regime” for certain single-use plastic products, in accordance with the “Polluter Pays Principle.” The manufacturers of these single-use plastic products (such as food containers, packets and wrappers, or wet wipes) should cover the costs of their collection, cleaning, waste transport, and treatment, and the raising of awareness.

In order to transpose the EU directive into national law, the Federal Government has submitted a draft bill. The “Single-Use Plastics Fund Act” establishes the legal basis for the collection of a disposable plastic levy by the Federal Environment Agency. For this purpose, levy rates must be defined for individual products.

The Federal Environment Agency has therefore commissioned a consortium with the participation of Prognos, to develop a corresponding cost model.

Our approach

In the first step, the foundations for market activity were established. In particular, Prognos determined the quantities of relevant single-use plastic products made available on the market: Food containers, packets and wrappers, beverage containers, beverage cups, lightweight plastic carrier bags, wet wipes, balloons, and plastic cigarette filters. The resulting waste volumes and associated costs were also determined.

On this basis, a cost model was developed that can be used to determine cost rates for the individual product groups – namely for the quantities provided in future years. On the other hand, the funds from the Single-Use Plastics Fund can be distributed to the various beneficiaries according to a point system.

In a third step, the cost model was tested on the basis of individual product groups and beneficiaries, and this was all calculated as an example.

Core results

In urban areas, the costs for cleaning and collection amounted to around 5.10 euros per inhabitant per year for all single-use plastic products and around 0.12 euros per inhabitant per year in extra-urban areas. In total, costs of around 5.22 euros per inhabitant per year were calculated for all single-use plastic products. To determine the product group-specific rate in [€/kg] of SUP products made available on the market, in a subsequent step, the costs are then compared with the overall quantities made available on the market. In a supplementary study for the GVM Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung mbH, 56,000 manufacturers who make single-use plastic articles (as defined by the EU directive) available on the market for the first time or sell them directly to households or other users, were identified. According to the Federal Government’s bill, these manufacturers will have to register for the Single-Use Plastics Fund.

Based on the cost model developed, the manufacturers’ SUP levy can be determined. The amount of the levy depends on the single-use plastic product and the quantity made available on the market. The levy rates are calculated in euros per kilogram.

The levies that manufacturers pay into the fund each year are paid out annually to all entitled stakeholders (public waste management bodies and other legal entities under public law). Pay-out is via a points system, whereby a score is assigned to the services of the beneficiaries.

An example: For cleaning one kilometre, an eligible party in the urban area will receive ten points, while the emptying of 100 litres of wastepaper bin volume is only accorded one point. The reason for this is that between the two variables there is a difference in cost factor of approximately ten.

Links and downloads

On the website of the Federal Environment Agency, you will find:

The study (in german)

Project team: Marieke Eckhardt, Dr Bärbel Birnstengel, Romy Kölmel

Last update 5.12.2022

Do you have questions?

Your contact at Prognos

Dr Bärbel Birnstengel


View profile

Marieke Eckhardt

Project Manager

View profile

Mehr Studien & Projekte zu diesem Thema

More studies & projects on this topic

Innovation Index Germany 2023

| Project

Once again, Prognos has compiled the Innovation Index Germany on behalf of the Vodafone Insti-tute for Society and Communications. The index quantifies the impact the expansion of Germa-ny’s digital infrastructure has had on its innovation strength.

Alternative transport scenario for Germany

| Project

Environmental organisations have tasked Prognos with adapting selected assumptions from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure transport forecasts to facilitate climate-friendly transport development.

Green light for the Rhineland-Palatinate Innovation Agency

| Project

The Rhineland-Palatinate Innovation Agency was co-developed by Prognos in 2022. Prognos has continued to support the innovation agency throughout the start of its operational work.

Regional purchasing power of pensions

| Project

Where in Germany is retirement particularly cheap and where has it become more expensive than average? Prognos examined this for the German Insurance Industry Association.

Indicators of equal living conditions

| Project

The establishment of equal living conditions in Germany is one of the goals being prioritised by the Federal Government. But how can the equivalence of living conditions be measured? Prognos develops a set of indicators.

Official start: Ten regions receive technical assistance from the EU

| Project update

Within the Harnessing Talent Platform, the European Commission has selected ten regions to receive technical assistance for securing skilled workers.

Climate-impacting transformation in the transport sector

| Project

The latest geopolitical and economic developments present a challenge for the ecological transi-tion of transport. Prognos develops measures for the BMDV.

Reforming environmentally harmful subsidies

| Project

On behalf of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, we examined the effects of phasing out climate damaging subsidies in the transport and industry sectors.

The potential of smart specialisation strategies

| Project

In collaboration with Prof. Dominique Foray, Prognos compiled a policy brief identifying the potential of smart specialisation strategies for driving forward structural transformation.

Roadmap for thermal waste treatment in Austria

| Project

Against the backdrop of the ever-increasing demand for recycled raw materials, the recycling of waste is becoming increasingly important. In this context, Wien Energie AG addressed the ques-tion of the role of thermal waste treatment in the circular economy.

About us

Prognos – Providing Orientation.

Prognos is one of the oldest economic research centres in Europe. Founded at the University of Basel, Prognos experts have been conducting research for a wide range of clients from the public and private sectors since 1959 – politically independent, scientifically sound.

Learn more