German packaging recovery rate up in 1997

National recycling targets met, costs to be reduced in future, says Duales System Deutschland

In 1997 Germany recovered 86% of sales packaging from households and small businesses for recycling, according to the latest annual report from the national packaging waste recovery company Duales System Deutschland (DSD). DSD also reports that it exceeded national recovery targets for different materials. It has pledged to reduce costs following increasing concern over high charges.

DSD was set up in 1993 to achieve recycling targets established by the 1991 packaging ordinance through a system of monitored collection, sorting and recycling. According to the report, the firm collected 5.6m tonnes of used sales packaging in 1997 compared with total consumption of 6.3m tonnes. Of this, 5.5m tonnes was recycled, up 2 percentage points from the previous year. DSD claims that "the good collection and sorting results show that our system is accepted by the population".

DSD also claims that in 1997 it improved on the national recycling targets for glass, paper and cardboard, plastics, tinplate, composites and aluminium. The report shows a recycling rate of 86% for aluminium compared with the 72% requirement; 93% paper and cardboard compared with 64% required and 69% plastics compared with 64% required.

DSD has recently faced increasing criticism for the level of its charges, currently equivalent to DM49 (Ecu25) annually for every consumer. The company has now pledged to lower the cost to DM41 per consumer by 2006 by shifting operations from manual labour to automated sorting machines.

It is also hoping that an amendment to the packaging ordinance will be agreed by the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament. The amendment is scheduled for discussion later this week. It would introduce greater transparency in order to reduce the problem of "free-loader" firms. Currently, some companies are using the system's "green-dot" logo on packaging, indicating participation in the DSD scheme, without making the required payment.

Concern over high costs has recently caused one municipality to opt out of DSD and establish an alternative waste recovery system (ENDS Daily 5 May). A spokesperson for DSD told ENDS Daily that negotiations with Landbell, the company pioneering the alternative system, had recently broken down. DSD is to appeal against a court ruling authorising the Lahn-Dill municipality to begin using the Landbell system, on the grounds that Landbell cannot meet national recycling targets.

Follow Up:
DSD,, tel: +49 22 03937 260.

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