Amendments to Germany‘‘s Packing Ordinance agreed by the Bundesrat, Upper Parliamentary Chamber, would change the basis for deposits on single-use beverage containers. The existing regulation, linked to quotas, is set to be replaced by deposits on all drinks sold in ‘‘environmental damaging‘‘ containers. Colleagues in the Environment Team, British Embassy (Berlin) report that the amendment seems unlikely to avert a case in the European Court over the deposits.


Deposits on certain single-use bottles and cans were introduced on 1.1.03 to increase sales of refillable bottles. The existing system is linked to the market share of refillables and hence applies only to certain drinks: beer, mineral water and carbonated drinks. The deposits are currently 25 cent or 50 cent depending on container size.

Packing Ordinance Amendment The Bundesrat approved a Bavaria motion on 15 September to amend the Packaging Ordinance. The content is similar to a Government bill first put forward in 2001. Federal Environment Minister, Jürgen Trittin, welcomed the decision which ended three years of deadlock over the amendment. He put forward a new bill (3rd Ordinance to Amend the Packaging Ordinance), based on the Bavaria proposal on 18 October. This must now go to the cabinet and Lower House before returning to the Upper House for formal approval, probably in mid December. Trittin expects the new legislation to be in place by the end of the year.

Under the Bavaria proposal and new Environment Ministry bill, deposits would be levied on the basis of the packaging rather than the beverage and refillable quotas. All drinks sold in ‘‘environmentally damaging‘‘ packing would attract a flat rate 25 cent deposit. This would include cans and single-use glass and PET bottles. Refillables, drinks cartons and PE bags for milk would be exempt, since they have been classified as environmentally sound in an Environment Agency life cycle analysis.

Further exemptions are planned for fruit and vegetable juice, wine, beverages containing at least 50% milk, drinks exceeding 15% alcohol, diet drinks and containers larger than 3 litres. If the new rules come into force, alco-pops (including those containing less than 50% wine) and other non-carbonated drinks such as sports drinks and ice tea would attract a deposit for the first time.

The Bundesrat was unable to agree a motion to oblige retailers to take back all single-use drinks containers. Under the existing rules, retailers are only required to take back containers that they stock. This has led to ‘‘island solutions‘‘, discount supermarkets only selling and taking back their own brands, which they sell in slightly modified containers.

EU Court Case

The European Commission has written to the German Government voicing concerns over the effects that the deposits have had on the EU market for mineral water. Commentators suggest that the new rules will be unlikely to avoid the case going before the European Court of Justice, particularly since the ‘‘island solutions‘‘ are set to remain under the current plans. The EU Commission will soon make a decision on whether to proceed to the ECJ on Wednesday.


The Federal Environment Ministry, the Consumer Association VZBV and environmental NGOs are amongst the supporters of Friday‘‘s Bundesrat decision. They welcome the simplified rules, the lack of litter and the likely reduction in CO2 emissions. Opponents include the Retail Trade Association HDE, The Federation of German Industry BDI and the wholesaler Lekkerland-Tobaccoland. They contest that the new rules will be simpler for consumers and criticise the move to amend the Packaging Ordinance before the Commission has decided whether to proceed to court.


Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #28-2004- October 23, 2004
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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