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German packaging firms announce recycling plan

German packaging firms announce recycling plan
BERLIN - German packaging and retail firms proposed plans for recycling this week to counter an official plan to introduce compulsory deposits on bottles and cans from 2002. The government swiftly rejected their proposals. Germanys ruling centre-left coalition, seeking to discourage the use of cans and disposable bottles in favour of refillable and reusable packaging, agreed in January to require a deposit on "ecologically damaging packaging" from next year, assuming it gets parliaments backing. "(Such a plan) is economically unjustified and has no ecological benefits," the Federation of Trading Associations and the Federation of the German Food Industry said in a statement. They proposed instead a voluntary, self-regulated scheme under which they would guarantee that at least 90 percent of all drinks containers would be either refilled or recycled. They said bottlers and packaging firms would also pay 250 million marks ($112 million) a year to environmental causes. The governments plan is the brainchild of Environment Minister Juergen Trittin, a leading member of the Green junior coalition partners. His ministry was quick to reject the industry proposals. "This is an unseemly effort by industry to win more time. We wont give in to them," said Deputy Minister Rainer Baake. Traumann said the associations were also thinking of legal action to stop the plan, which is due to be debated in cabinet soon. The plan would require consumers to pay a deposit of 0.25 euros (22 U.S. cents) per unit, with 0.50 euros per 1.5 litre bottle. The new rule would not cover wine bottles. The government estimates that it would cost industry less than two pfennigs (one U.S. cent) per packaging unit to implement and administer, costs it calls "economically bearable". Retailers often favour disposable packaging, because storing and returning the material can prove time-consuming and expensive. Germany is one of the worlds most advanced countries in the field of environmentally sustainable practices, and a large share of beer and mineral water sold in Germany already comes in returnable bottles. The governments plan needs support in the Bundesrat upper house to come into force, but most of the 16 regional states represented there have already indicated their support for the measures. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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