German refillable packaging quota breached

Trittin urges public to support drinks container law, says metal cans are "not trendy but trash"

Germany's controversial legal quota protecting the market share of refillable drinks containers has been breached for the first time since it was introduced in 1991, the German environment ministry announced yesterday. The proportion of drinks containers sold in 1997 fell just below the 72% threshold. If refillables' share of the market falls below the threshold again in 1998 then the government would be obliged by the 1991 packaging ordinance to introduce DM0.5 (Ecu0.25) deposits on one-way packaging in specific sectors where the refillable share has fallen below that recorded in 1991. According to the latest figures, these are the wine, beer and mineral water sectors (see table below). The ministry blames the trend on a growing popularity for drinks only available in one-way packaging, such as sports drinks and iced tea, as well as an increase in sales of beer in metal cans. Cans "are not trendy but trash," said German environment minister J├╝rgen Trittin, who urged the public to support refillable drinks containers. If deposits are introduced, manufacturers in affected sectors would be legally responsible for collecting returned containers from retail outlets and recycling them. At present, one-way drinks containers are collected from households and small businesses by the national packaging recycling system, Duales System Deutschland (DSD).

Percentage share of refillable containers in different drinks markets in Germany:


                   1991      1997


Mineral water      91.3      88.3

Fruit juices       34.6      36.7

Soft drinks        73.7      77.5

Beer               82.2      78.0

Wine               28.6      28.6

Milk (in bottles)  24.2      18.0

Milk (in cartons)   2.1      12.2

ALL DRINKS         71.7      71.4


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