Rexam, whose 2003 full-year profits suffered a net £20M hit as a result of the German deposit scheme on one-way beverage containers [Packaging Today – April, p12], has welcomed a EU Commission ruling that the German Government’s implementation of the scheme was contrary to the EU Packaging Directive and Treaty rules on free movement of goods.

The Commission has now formally requested Germany change the relevant rules in its packaging laws. Rexam says, although the request has no suspensive effect, Germany could be summoned before the European Court of Justice if it does not adopt the necessary measures within two months.

Chief executive officer Rolf Borjesson says: “It must now be in the interest of all parties to work towards the immediate establishment of a national solution that promotes free trade and allows German consumers greater freedom of choice in packaging and products.”

Rexam corporate communications director Per Erlandsson adds: “The German deposit appears to principally have been a protectionist initiative designed to safeguard the interests of the local German beer industry. The Commission’s announcement will put further pressure on the German government to replace the current, nonsensical system. We hope a revised scheme could be in place within months.”

Ball Packaging Europe has also welcomed the Commission’s decision. Head of PR Sylvia Blomker adds: “We favour a system similar to Austria’s, as proposed by the State of Hesse, where the deposit would be replaced with a 90% quota split 60% towards refillable containers and 30% to recycled one-way packs.”