Berlin (dpa) – More and more coffee shops are offering takeaway coffee in returnable cups. Starting in 2022, Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) believes that this should be mandatory.
Anyone offering “take out” food in disposable plastic containers should offer mandatory reusable containers at no additional charge. There is too much packaging waste in Germany, Secretary of State Jochen Flasbarth said. The deposit obligation will extend to all single-use plastic bottles and beverage cans.
Schulze’s bill provides for an exception if a store has a maximum of three employees and an area of no more than 50 square meters; then it should be enough for customers to fill the products into reusable containers that they have brought with them. Anyone who sells food only on plates or wrapped in foil is as exempt as pizzerias that sell pizza in cartons, because the goal is to avoid wasting plastic.
The reform of the Packaging Law implements EU directives, some of which go further. Flasbarth said he was “very confident” that the proposal would pass in the black-red coalition. The consumption of packaging in Germany increases year after year. In 2018, the amount of garbage again reached a record high: 18.9 million tons, or 227.5 kilograms per capita, were generated. About half of this is due to the consumer. The Federal Environment Agency cites the tendency to consume food and beverages on the go as one of the reasons.
Until now, there have been exceptions to the one-way reservoir, for example for juice. So it could happen that depending on the content, a deposit would have to be paid on the same packaging, sometimes no, that basically should end, as Flasbarth said: “It doesn’t matter what’s inside.”
To strengthen the recycling industry, quotas for the use of recycled material will be introduced: 25 percent for new PET plastic bottles from 2025, 30 percent for all new plastic bottles from 2030, each until a three liter bottle size. Industry has been asking for this for a long time, because more and more plastic waste is being recycled, but there is little demand for the material that is obtained from it. Now the EU is finally allowing this quota, Flasbarth said. The goal is to expand this to other areas in the future.
Disposable plastic is being rejected in other ways as well: from mid-2021, the sale of cutlery, plates, drinking straws and some other disposable plastic products will be banned in the EU, because alternatives have long existed. This is also the end of things for glasses and food containers made from Styrofoam.
According to the Environment Ministry, the German ban on plastic bags is also advancing. The cabinet had decided to end the standard bags in the box in June. Now the Union and the SPD have also agreed in the Bundestag, Flasbarth said. This means that by the end of 2021 there will be no more plastic bags.
The Greens in the Bundestag demanded to go even further: “For beverage packaging, a legally anchored and sanctioned reusable quota of 80 percent by 2025,” said environmental policy spokeswoman Bettina Hoffmann. More reusable is also needed for food packaging in retail and shipping packaging.
Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) praised, but also other demands: “It is a first step in the right direction to force fast food chains and coffee outlets to offer reusable cups and take-out boxes,” he said. Federal Deputy Director General Barbara Metz. But a binding reusable fee is needed. “Also, the negative environmental impact of disposable cups should be felt in the price,” he cautioned: reusable cups only become standard for consumers if the disposable cups are significantly more expensive.