German Bundesrat rejects deposit on disposable drinks containers

German Bundesrat rejects a controversial proposal to introduce compulsory deposit on non-reusable drinks containers

Although the legislative proposal received the green light
from the German lower house (Bundestag), several German regions
blocked it in the upper house preferring a system of voluntary
agreements with industry to solve the packaging waste problems.

 

Positions

The German and European packaging industry federations have
warned against the compulsory deposit system and the distinction of
packaging in ecologically friendly and ecologically harmful
packaging. Industry has pointed to the high investment costs needed
if this amendment becomes law (estimates range from 3 billion-4
billion DM). The packaging industry is also concerned that these
proposals do not comply with the EU's packaging and packaging waste
directive.

The Federation of German industries (BDI)
welcomed the vote and said the government should see it as a chance
to develop a new economically and ecologically sustainable solution
to the packaging waste issue.

German environment organisation NABU expressed
its scepticism over a voluntary agreement system with industry.
"Why would an industry which slept for ten years, suddenly be ready
to accept binding commitments?", said NABU President Jochen
Flasbarth.

 

Background

The German Bundesrat rejected on Friday 13 July a
controversial proposal to introduce a compulsory deposit on
non-reusable drinks containers. The vote in the German upper house
has been monitored closely by the European packaging waste industry
because of its possible implications for the EU's review of the
packaging and packaging waste directive.

 

On 2 May 2001, the German federal government adopted an
amendment to the 1991 Packaging Ordinance. The amendment would have
introduced, from 1 January 2002, a compulsory deposit on all
ecologically disadvantageous packaging. A deposit of 0.25 Euro
(0.50 Euro for a net volume exceeding 1.5 litres) would have been
imposed on drinks cans, disposable glass bottles and disposable
plastic bottles (PET), which will be reimbursed on return.

The proposed amendment was introduced by German
environment minister Trittin in response to a requirement under the
current packaging legislation for a compulsory deposit on certain
drink types when the percentage of reusable beverage packaging
falls below 72 percent for 2 consecutive years. The definition of
environmentally damaging and environmentally friendly packaging was
the result of a life cycle analysis undertaken by the German
Environment Agency in August 2000.

 

Timeline

The failure to agree on this packaging law amendment will not
get the packaging waste industry off the hook. A Packaging Decree
passed by the center-right coalition government of former
Chancellor Helmut Kohl foresees that, from April 2002, a compulsory
deposit for beer and mineral water, but not for soft drinks, will
automatically kick in.

 

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