The decision by the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig to reject an appeal against the implementation of the deposit for one-way packaging in North-Rhine Westphalia has been criticised by The Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging.

APEAL believes that this Court decision is contrary to the protection of the environment and consumers’ interests, its only possible merit being the removal of some of the legal uncertainty created by the Environment Minister’s determination to implement the deposit obligation from the beginning of the year.

It says that the deposit obligation will not help in reaching the goal assigned under the 1991 Packaging Ordinance to preserve a high proportion of the market for refillable packaging as opposed to one-way packaging.

Nor will the deposit achieve improved environmental performance for drinks packaging. This assertion is particularly pertinent to steel packaging. Given the exceptionally high recycling rate for steel, the new deposit on steel beverage containers can achieve only a 3% increase in the recycling rate for all used steel packaging (all packaging applications included). The biggest penalty will be for the consumer who, regardless of which packaging he or she chooses, will pay more for the same drinks.

The German steel packaging industry is discussing with the key packaging chain stakeholders the optimal collection system which would ensure the German consumer a continued supply of beverages in steel cans.

Until now drinks marketed in metal cans have been successful in meeting consumer demand on the German market reaching a yearly production of 7bn cans, 90% of which are steel.

This market position is the result of long term efforts to improve convenience for the consumer, as well as build on the good environmental performance of the steel can.

These initiatives include the involvement in recycling schemes [steel packaging in Europe has the 2nd highest recycling rate after glass] with 78% in Germany and in the Netherlands, 88% in Belgium and recycling rates increasing rapidly in other countries. In addition, prevention of waste at source has taken place through substantial light-weighing and reduction of CO2 emissions.

This constant progress in environmental performance is acknowledged in the life cycle analysis recently performed for the German Government (UBA II) but ignored at political level.

European steel producers will maintain this high level of innovation in order to further improve their environmental, technical and economic performance.

In addition, APEAL will intensify its communication on environmental, technical and economic credentials in order to make sure that they are not overshadowed by the policy of the German Government against one-way packaging.

The 10-years old legislation has lost any basis owing to the constant developments in the packaging industry during the last decade.

In parallel to local initiatives to make the deposit obligation in Germany as workable and user friendly as possible, APEAL will maintain actions against unjustified deposits on one-way packaging both in Germany and in other countries within the European Union.