How are European plastics molders, extruders and packaging manufacturers faring under the German Green Dot recycling program? Not badly, according to Linpac Plastics' environmental manager, David Eggleston, in Knottingley, England.
What has changed is a flood of packaging taxes at the municipal level. German cities have taken the initiative to add disposal taxes to fast-food packaging. Frankfurt, Germany, the largest city so far to consider the measure, approved the move in December. Another 60 municipalities are considering the additional taxes, which go directly to city coffers and not to specific recycling or environmental programs.
For the time being, costs of the German ``manufacturers' responsibility'' law requiring payment for the legal disposal of packaging have not been absorbed by processors, he said.
And Lynn Scarlett, research director for Reason Foundation in Los Angeles, who has researched Green Dot extensively, said, ``There's not been a wholesale departure from plastics to something else'' as a result of the Green Dot.
In October, the costs to manufacturers to support Duales System Deutschland - Germany's materials recovery organization - rose significantly when the system went from being weight-based to being item-specific and volume-based. This affected plastics collection the most, due to plastics' inherent light weight and high volume.It also helped cut DSD's operating deficit, which had risen quickly to $200 million eight months after the law went into effect and stayed there until early 1994, when it began shrinking, Eggleston said.
``Processors have super-lightweighted plastics and in some cases have increased their [outer] packaging of paper or cardboard, but the actual amount of plastics packaging has remained pretty constant or has grown slightly,'' Scarlett said.