New law against packaging waste: more responsibility for amazon

The Ministry of the Environment wants to make online retailers bear more of the costs of waste disposal and extend the mandatory deposit.

The BMU wants to combat increasing packaging waste in online trade with the draft law Photo: Jochen Tack/imago

The Ministry of the Environment (BMU) wants to oblige Starbucks, McDonald’s and Co to sell their coffees and meals in reusable packaging as well. This is the result of a draft law of the BMU, which is available to the taz. According to the bill, restaurants and stores are to be obliged to offer goods offered for sale in "disposable packaging at the point of sale in each case also in reusable packaging" at the same price and under the same conditions – for example in different sizes.

The BMU also wants to combat the increasing packaging waste in online retailing with the draft law. For example, online marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay are to be obliged to check whether the retailers who offer goods on them properly register their packaging and pay for its disposal. They are already obliged to do this under the Packaging Act. Technically, according to Gunda Rachut, director of the Central Packaging Register Office, the check is not a problem: the online marketplace would only have to enter the VAT identification number of the supplier into an online tool of the Central Office and would immediately receive the information as to whether the supplier has packaging licensed there, regardless of whether it is based in Germany or abroad.

Furthermore, the draft law, with which the BMU is implementing the EU’s Single-Use Plastic Directive and going beyond it in parts, for the first time provides for use quotas for recycled plastic in beverage bottles. From 2025, a quarter of the weight of single-use plastic bottles will initially have to be made from recycled material, and the quota will rise further in 2030. In addition, the deposit system will be expanded: Up to now, the content of a bottle or can has determined whether retailers have to deposit it. In the future, the BMU envisages a mandatory deposit for all single-use plastic beverage containers and for cans.

Recycled plastic not competitive

The draft law thus addresses criticism from the recycling industry, among others. Only on Tuesday, at the presentation of its status report, it had once again complained that, among other things, the market for secondary plastics was becoming increasingly difficult due to the low oil price.

Dirk Messner, President of the Federal Environment Agency, summed up two years of the Packaging Act in Berlin on Wednesday, saying that overall there had been some movement in the disposal and recycling of packaging. In some areas, however, such as online retailing, things are "not working out so well. Despite all the perfection of the systems, "we are still a throwaway society," Messner said.

The BMU’s draft law still has to be approved by the other responsible departments – such as the Ministry of Economics – before it can be submitted to the cabinet and the Bundestag.

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