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German packaging deposits cleared for take-off

Environment Daily 1166, 26/02/02

Summary: Germany has mandated that the beverage industry maintain a minimum of 72% refillable containers. If they fall below that percentage, Germany's 1991 packaging ordinance requires the introduction of punitive deposits on the one-way containers. It seems that they have fallen below the 72% and the government is making ready to follow through on the deposits while the manufacturers are getting ready to fight it. Oh, to be German!

The German government is preparing to introduce deposits on a range of one-way drinks containers before the end of this year after the failure of a lawsuit brought by manufacturing and retailing interests. The coalition of 16 firms, coordinated through packaging makers' association Agvu could, however, still appeal to Germany's constitutional court.

At issue is the government's right to publish official data showing that the share of beer and mineral water packaged in refillable containers fell below a required minimum of 72% in 1999. Germany's 1991 packaging ordinance requires the introduction of punitive deposits on one-way packaging for these drinks six months after the figures' formal publication.

The environment ministry has welcomed the Berlin higher administrative court judgement, which was released on Friday. The February 1999 to January 2000 data would now be released, an official told Environment Daily, probably with a delay of a month or two to allow inclusion of official May 2000 to April 2001 figures at the same time.

It is already known that in this compliance period the 72% refill quota was also breached for carbonated soft drinks. The government wants to spark introduction of one-way container deposits on all three categories simultaneously rather than in stages.

The official rejected media reports of government concern that deposits might now be introduced around the time of national elections in September. The government had support from 70-80% of the population on the issue, he said. Can manufacturers "are not the only ones going to the polls", he added.

States governed by the centre-right political opposition could nevertheless try to make "can-deposits" into an electoral issue. Following Friday's court judgement, Baden Württemberg's cabinet agreed this morning to team up with other centre-right states to try and force a change of policy.

© 2005 City & County of Honolulu's Department of Environmental Services.