COLOGNE, GERMANY — Germany's Duales System Deutschland is cracking down on companies that have refused to join its waste collection system, and has announced long-term reductions in its charges.
The moves were a response to breakaway threats from businesses and local governments and continuing resistance by many to sign up with its waste-packaging collection and recycling system.
Costs for the Green Dot will be reduced from 49 deutsche marks (about $27) a year per inhabitant to DM41 (about $22) annually by the year 2006 in several steps. DSD said this will be achieved without cutting services, by the construction of highly automated sorting and pre-recycling treatment plants and closing down older, less-efficient facilities.
``At the same time, costs to industry could drop by up to 30 per cent, if the German Packaging Ordinance is amended,'' said marketing manager Petra Rob.
This amendment would permit Cologne-based DSD to crack down on companies that have refused to join, including some large textile retailers and practically all small shopkeepers.
Voting on the amendment by the Bundesrat (one of two chambers of German Parliament) is set for May 8. If the proposal passes, DSD might refuse to handle waste packaging from such firms, said DSD spokesman Ulrich Hanfeld.
``The amendment would also pave the way for an authority [Deutsche Akkreditierungs Gesellschaft] that would check what happens with waste packaging from companies that have stayed out of the system,'' Hanfeld said.
Until now, local officials have had such authority, and could fine companies as much as $110,000, but they did not have the staff to enforce the law, Hanfeld said.
In the meantime, some of the largest retail and semiwholesale chains have withdrawn their cheese- and sausage-wrapping film from the Green Dot program. And now a high-visibility German dairy-product manufacturer has expressed interest in a waste-packaging system that the Lahn-Dill district is trying to implement.
DSD has filed suit against the district's local government and is expecting a judgment soon, Hanfeld said.
The challenge facing DSD is that many local governments want to regain control of waste packaging because their waste-disposal and incineration facilities are running far below capacity. Plastic packaging remains a problem because plastic waste does not have the same salable commercial value as aluminum, steel or paper.
DSD's Rob points out that the system promoted by the Lahn-Dill district does not comply with the provisions of the German Packaging Ordinance, because waste packaging would not be collected separately and would not be recovered, but incinerated.
Hanfeld said that if DSD does not win its case and the Lahn-Dill district goes ahead with its new system, DSD still will distribute and collect its products and ``let the consumer decide which system he prefers.''