German recyclers give deposits cautious welcome

Vintners call for wine bottles to be exempted to protect producers, retail trade, consumers

German recyclers have cautiously welcomed government plans to introduce deposits on "unecological" drinks containers later this year. However, with the country's vintners, they are calling for wine bottles to be exempted. The environment ministry is expected to formally propose the new rules within weeks (ENDS Daily 25 October 2000). An official conceded today that there were "a few good reasons" for exempting wine bottles but stressed that they were "still being examined".

According to Hans Jürgen Cierzon, president of the national association of recyclers, BVSE, any deposit system must be compatible with the nation's countrywide glass recycling system. Presenting the BVSE's annual report on Monday, Mr Cierzon stressed that Germany's "exemplary and proven" glass collection and recycling system achieved a 90% collection rate, with over 80% of collected glass recycled.

German vintners are lobbying to have wine bottles excluded from the deposits, which are due to be imposed on all one-way glass packaging. They argue that most wine bottles are already collected and recycled and that the way consumers buy wine means that deposits would not increase return rates.

Furthermore, the industry says, deposits would favour imported over home-produced wine and discriminate against Germany's numerous small wine cooperatives, which market directly to the public. An official at the association of German winegrowers, DWV, told ENDS Daily that the wine trade was simply not in a position to handle two systems. It would therefore continue to recycle bottles, which involved less handling and lower storage costs. Deposits would simply increase prices for consumers, he said.

Follow Up:
BVSE, tel: +49 228 98 84 90, and press release; DWV, tel: +49 228 949 3250.

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