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Germany's Green Dot system met its 1996 plastics and total packaging recycling goals, officials announced. Last year was the first year that Germany's packaging ordinance required industry to meet specific collection quotas.

The packaging ordinance target for plastic was to collect 64 percent of packaging from households and small businesses. Green Dot attained 68 percent.

Glass was the leader of the recyclables, with almost 3 million tons recycled. Plastics packaging followed paper and cardboard, with 589,000 tons recycled. The system collected a total of 6 million tons, of which 5.9 million were sorted, up from 5.4 million in 1995.

The collection rate for all packaging hit 84 percent, according to Duales System Deutschland GmbH in Cologne, Germany.

``In view of the high expectations, it is particularly pleasing that we have satisfied the requirements throughout Germany,'' said Wolfram Bruck, chairman of Duales System Deutschland. ``This considerable achievement was possible because of the highly motivated citizens who collected and sorted their waste on a high level once again,'' he said.

``It is particularly pleasing that the citizens need only pay slightly more for the more environmentally compatible recycling than for landfilling or incineration. The costs for the Green Dot are now going down in the medium term. We are thus clearly breaking the upward trend in general waste management charges,'' Bruck said.

Duales System Deutschland was formed by packaging companies to meet the quotas set by the German Packaging Ordinance of 1991, requiring the manufacturers and distributors to take back used packaging.

With the consumer-oriented collection system, customers collect used packaging at home instead of returning it to shops and stores.

Green Dot collects, analyzes and reports the recycling results. The calculation of the collection and sorting quotas are checked each year, based on the consumption of sales packaging. These reports are submitted by May 2 every year.

Duales System is developing new sorting and recycling techniques.

``In a few years, we will be replacing manual sorting by fully automatic systems,'' Bruck said. ``The Green Dot will then cost less than waste disposal.''