Law extends deposit obligation: Bundestag relies on the reusable principle

Law extends deposit obligation
Bundestag relies on the reusable principle

During the corona pandemic, packaging waste piles up in ever higher piles of plastic due to a to-go boom. This will end in 2023. Then innkeepers have to offer their customers reusable tableware. However, there are exceptions. For environmentalists, the regulations do not go far enough.

In the future, restaurants, snack bars and cafes will have to offer their customers a reusable option in addition to disposable packaging. A corresponding obligation, which will apply from 2023, was decided by the Bundestag in the evening. Exceptions apply, however, to smaller catering establishments that are a maximum of 80 square meters and have no more than five employees.

At the same time, the MPs extended the deposit requirement to all single-use plastic bottles and beverage cans. So far, there are still beverages – such as non-carbonated fruit juices – whose packaging does not require a deposit. Such exemptions will no longer apply from 2022. There is only a transition period until 2024 for milk and milk products. In addition, a minimum proportion of recycled plastic will be introduced for the production of PET bottles.

These measures are intended to reduce packaging waste in Germany. “With more reusable packaging, we will effectively curb the flood of packaging, especially in the to-go area,” said Environment Minister Svenja Schulze from the SPD.

City cleaners are satisfied

For environmentalists, however, the new regulations do not go far enough. Above all, the exceptions to the reusable obligation are criticized. The German Hotel and Restaurant Association, on the other hand, fears an additional financial burden, the HDE trade association is calling for at least longer transition periods.

From the point of view of the German city cleaners, on the other hand, the law provides important impetus for a more sustainable handling of packaging waste. The municipal cleaning companies in particular are suffering from the to-go boom, according to the Association of Municipal Companies (VKU). The removal of the waste from public spaces costs around 700 million euros per year.

Before that, the Greens had not got through with their more far-reaching approach: In a parliamentary motion, they had campaigned that doing without one-way packaging should also be financially worthwhile. After that, reusable solutions should have been offered cheaper across the board. “A mere obligation to offer reusable alternatives in parallel to one-way solutions will foreseeably come to nothing,” wrote the Greens in their application and criticized Schulze’s law as a codification of the status quo.