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[GreenYes] More from Germany
More from Germany

German brewers file suit against recycling law - GERMANY

German brewers file suit against recycling law


BERLIN - An association of German brewers has filed a suit against 
Germany's 16 federal states seeking to block a government directive 
introducing deposits on non-returnable beer and soft drink cans and 

"We have begun the action and our suits were filed with the 16 states 
today," Michael Scherer, head of the brands and packaging association 
for German brewers, told Reuters.

"We say that it is neither ecologically nor economic sensible and 
that it is unfair to be targeting just the drinks industry," he said.

The German cabinet approved the measure last week that calls for 
deposits of 25 cents ($0.22) for smaller disposable containers and 50 
cents for cans and bottles above 1.5 litres starting in 2003. 
Deposits are returned when the bottles and cans are disposed in 
special recycling machines.

"The government has put the cost at about 700 to 800 million euros. 
We say it's much higher. If you take into account a possible 15 
billion cans and bottles, the cost would be more likely to be 3.25 
billion euros. We would have to pass that on to the consumer," said 
Scherer, whose association covers 55 brewers with about two-thirds of 
Germany's brewing production.

At the very least, the legal challenge could delay the introduction 
of the recycling directive, which is scheduled to take effect January 

The move is likely to impact the makers of can recycling machines, 
such as Norway's Tomra Systems , whose shares rose in anticipation of 
the German government's decision. In an interview last week, the 
firm's chief executive said Germany represented Tomra's best growth 

The measure has long sparked opposition among retailers and beverage 
manufacturers but the government says it is necessary because the 
percentage of refillable cans and bottles has fallen below a minimum 
target level set in 1997.

The 1997 law requires that 72 percent of all beverage containers sold 
be returnable, but government officials said that target was no 
longer being met.

Environment Minister Juergen Trittin, a member of the Green Party who 
are junior coalition partners in government, has been pushing for the 
introduction of this system for almost a year.

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Patricia Franklin
Executive Director
Container Recycling Institute
1911 N. Fort Myer Drive, Ste. 702
Arlington, VA 22209

TEL:   703.276.9800
FAX:   703.276.9587
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