Brussels clears German packaging-deposit scheme

A long-standing case over Germany’s mandatory return scheme for used cans and bottles was dropped by the Commission after changes were introduced in the system to make it compatible with EU internal trade rules.

The Commission closed an infringement procedure against Germany’s mandatory deposit system for used cans and plastic bottles on 23 March 2007.

The scheme, considered too cumbersome by Brussels, was simplified as of May last year to take account of two judgments by the European Court of Justice, which ruled the system illegal (EURACTIV 15/12/04).

The Commission argued that the legislation made it difficult to import beverages into Germany and constituted a barrier to trade in the internal market.

Under the scheme, introduced in 2002, producers and retailers had to charge consumers a €0.25 deposit on mineral water, beer and soft-drinks packaging and accept the used cans and bottles in return.

“Germany reworked the deposit system and simplified the rules on the recovery of the deposit for consumers. One-way bottles can now be returned in principle in every shop selling beverages in packaging of the same material type,” the Commission said.

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