Germany is seriously considering a national bottle deposit on disposable containers to encourage more returnable and refillable packaging.
Germany's government, which includes the Green Party as junior members, is pushing legislation that would enact deposits if the market share of reusable bottles drops below specified levels. Some industry observers expect the legislation to be adopted.
Ulrich Schlotter, a spokesman for the German Association of Plastics Manufacturers, or VKE, in Frankfurt, said VKE opposes the legislation because assessing the environmental impact of returnable packaging is complicated.
He said if a distribution area extends more than about 43 miles around a plant, for example, transportation costs and other expenses make it "questionable" whether there are benefits to returnables.
Opponents also argue deposit systems are expensive for retailers because they have to shoulder much of the administrative burden. But supporters see disposable packaging as environmentally unfriendly.
The legislation has passed the lower house of Germany's Parliament. Germany already has its Green Dot system for package recycling and deposits on some containers, but this proposal would expand that. The legislation would take effect Jan. 1.
The German Association of Mineral Water Importers said in a Feb. 6 statement that the proposal, which is a modification of earlier plans, violates European Commission rules against distorting competition and argues that it has no environmental justification.
The association said it would "do its utmost" to see that the European Commission blocks the German ordinance and said EC decisions last summer support its position.