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EU delays action vs Germany on can recycling system

EU delays action vs Germany on can recycling system
BRUSSELS - The European Commission this week postponed for three weeks a decision on whether to launch legal action against Germany over a controversial can recycling system, a spokeswoman said. The EU executive had given Berlin until October 1 to alter its deposit requirements on non-reusable packages such as beverage cans, which Brussels regards as too complex and discriminatory against foreign producers. Opponents say the arrangement benefits domestic mineral water and beer producers, which use refillable glass bottles, to the disadvantage of foreign firms, which prefer to use plastic and aluminium bottles to reduce the cost of transport. According to industry group Beverage Can Makers Europe the share of drinks sold in refillable bottles soared to 78.7 percent from 69.6 percent in the first three months of 2003 due to the new scheme. German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin met Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein in Brussels on Monday in a last-minute attempt to avert Commission action against the system, which went into force this week. Chief spokesman Reijjo Kemppinen said the EU executive\'s decision was postponed to allow more time for discussion with the German authorities following contacts on Tuesday. EU demands to alter the recycling system could be crucial for Norwegian bottles and cans recycling machine group Tomra TOM.OL , which already produces recycling machines for Germany and sees it as its biggest potential new market. The Commission has said it does not object to the deposit system as such. But it believes the system\'s complexity limits the freedom of movement of goods and discriminates against foreign beverages makers, which produce over 90 percent of non-refillable beverage containers in Germany. It was concerned that the German scheme offered customers little choice on where they could take back their cans, obliging them in some cases to go back to the retailer. An EU infringement procedure could lead to court action and potentially to fines against Germany. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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