German Bundesrat to vote on controversial packaging waste amendment

German Bundesrat to vote on amendment to its packaging waste laws, which could have EU-wide implications for packaging industry

Positions

Most German States (Länder), ruled by the opposition CDU,
have expressed their intention to vote against the amendment. It is
unclear if the proposed legislation will get a majority on Friday
22 June.

Several 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 would become law (estimate 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.

Steel packaging industry body APEAL recently
sent its comments on Germany's plans to the Commission's services
saying that the proposed legislation "infringes fundamental legal
principles and should be examined in the light of the infringement
procedure concerning the German Packaging Ordinance".

The main objections of the steel packaging
federation are:

  • The requirements and objectives of the Packaging and Packaging
    Waste directive have been more than fulfilled (e.g. recycling of
    steel for packaging is higher than 80 percent)
  • the distinction in "ecologically favourable" and "unfavourable"
    packaging can not be accepted, because the life cycle analysis on
    which this distinction was based, was partial and arbitrary.
    Moreover, "LCA should be used in an appropriate manner as a tool
    for continuous environmental improvement of all packaging systems
    by the packaging material producers and the packaging industry, and
    not misused by governments by drafting legislation based on
    LCAs".

The German deposit proposal has also been
opposed by 5 Member States including France, Luxembourg and
Austria. However, Trittin received support for his proposals from
environmental movements in Germany and from the European
Environmental Bureau.

 

Background

On Friday 22 June 2001, the German Bundesrat will vote on an
amendment to its packaging waste laws, which could have EU-wide
implications for the packaging industry. The European packaging
industry will be closely monitoring the outcome of this debate in
the German parliament of the regions (Länder) as it could have
repercussions on the Commission's upcoming review of the packaging
waste directive.

 

On 2 May 2001, the German federal government adopted an
amendment to the 1991 Packaging Ordinance. The amendment
introduces, 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) will then be
imposed on drinks cans, disposable glass bottles and disposable
plastic bottles (PET), which will be reimbursed on return. Wine
bottles are exempt.

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.

 

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