Germany: Manufacturers have to pay for plastic disposal

The German Bundestag (Lower House of German Parliament) has decided today on a special levy for products made of single-use plastic in order to relieve the financial burden on cities and communities when it comes to cleaning streets and parks.Manufacturers of certain beverage cups, food packaging or cigarettes will in future have to pay into a state fund and thus contribute to the costs of disposing of discarded coffee cups and bags of chips.

The plastic levy has yet to pass the Bundesrat (Federal Council) before next year, the cost of cleaning public spaces will be passed on to corporations rather than local councils.

The fee is based on the amount of plastic placed on the market in the previous year. A total of EUR 400 million should flow into the coffers of the municipalities every year.

The law goes back to a 2019 EU directive against pollution from single-use plastic. EU regulations explicitly give member states the option to hold plastic product manufacturers accountable.

While the regulation does not go far enough for the municipalities who would have liked to include chewing gum, pizza boxes or aluminum trays in the regulation as well, the industry fears unnecessary burdens.

Politicians must "show now that the actual design [of the regulation] is cost-efficient and fair for the affected sectors without causing unnecessary burdens," Antje Gerstein, Managing Director EU Policy and Sustainability of the German Retail Association (HDE) told the German Press Agency.

The companies concerned had clearly spoken out in favor of a model under private law. "Regrettably, politicians have chosen a different model." Gerstein said.

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