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Rubbish law aims to boost recycling

The Local · 28 Oct 2011, 15:10

Published: 28 Oct 2011 15:10 GMT+02:00

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The law must still pass Germany's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, before becoming law.

This will introduce yet another rubbish bin to German streets, back yards and municipal recycling depots – an orange one for non-packaging metals and plastics – to stand next to the multiple glass bins, as well as those for paper, organic waste, packaging and non-recyclable rubbish.

Environment Minister Nobert Röttgen said Germany would become less dependent on ever-more expensive raw materials if it were to further increase its recycling rate. Currently 13 percent of Germany’s material use is covered by recycled rubbish, while 65 percent of household waste is recycled.

Opposition parties voted against the law though, as they felt it did not afford enough protection to municipal governments against private firms which profit from collecting and re-selling rubbish.

The government strengthened the municipalities’ position at the last minute – reportedly due to fears that the law could be rejected in the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat.

Now private operators will only be eligible for a contract to collect paper, glass and other materials if the municipality does not have a high-tech collection system. The collections must also be guaranteed for at least three years, regardless of possible drops in material prices.

“This law is a very important building block of a policy which no longer understands ecology and economy as opposites,” said Röttgen.

The recycling sector creates around €50 billion in turnover.

“We all know the problems and challenges of raw material shortages,” said Röttgen, adding that Germany had to learn to get by on fewer resources yet continue to achieve good economic growth.

The law gives priority to reuse, recycling and avoiding rubbish that has to be disposed of and is thus a further departure “from the old principle of burning or burying,” said Röttgen.

“We will, and this is the next step, introduce a reusable materials bin,” he said.

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This should increase the amount of reusable or recyclable material collected per capita by seven kilos each year. It has even been mooted that the new bin could replace the yellow ones currently used for packaging as it could all be dealt with in the same place.

The law would also make it a legal duty to separate waste paper, metal, packaging and organic waste as well as glass.

DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:53 October 29, 2011 by The-ex-pat
You can recycle everything as we have to do in my town of residence, but when the yellow sacks are then shipped to the next town to be incineratored, it does leave you asking my we bother in the first place. Also, I already have an orange bin is for restmüll. However I would imagine will have to change (at our cost) once the legal colour for a bin is entered into the annals of the German legal system!!!!
16:01 October 29, 2011 by Ruhetag
There should only be two bins: Bio waste and "Everything Else". Everything Else should then be taken to a large recycling center for sorting. This will really encourage recycling, and is the way things were done back in Seattle. I feel Seattle was much more progressive about recycling than Germany.
19:15 October 29, 2011 by ChrisRea
Seattle is more progressive about recycling than Germany indeed. The numbers show this clearly: Seattle recycles about 50% and has a goal by 2012 to reach 60%, while in Germany is only at around 64% (all figures include composting). I still do not understand why the world looks at Germans as role-models.

Ruhetag actually inspired me: while it is better with only two bins (actually Seattle has three: Recycle, Food&Yard, Garbage), the ultimate solution would go even further - a single bin. This way it is sure to have people put the stuff in the right bin and thus contribute the most to recycling.
09:58 October 30, 2011 by nolibs
@Ruhetag and ChrisRea - Not sure how Seattle can be more progressive (not even sure what that means) when Germany already recycles 64% of its waste. Add that we are talking about an entire country vs. a city, and I would say that Seattle has nothing to say.
18:14 October 30, 2011 by catjones
Another example of precision brings perfection.....another flawed example.
19:11 October 30, 2011 by jg.
As in the UK, the German government directs their efforts and legislation at the end users, who actually have no choice how products are packaged. It would be better to legislate with the manufacturers and suppliers, such that it becomes more cost effective for them to supply goods made from and packaged in materials which lend themselves to easy and cheap recycling i.e. not plastcs.
07:45 October 31, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ nolibs #4

I'm sorry if my irony was too subtle. I was just trying to make fun of Ruhetag's posting.

@ jg. #6

Are you familiar with the Packaging Ordinance adopted by Germany in 1991? It actually forces recycling measures on manufacturers. The principle is ¦quot;polluter pays¦quot; (companies) as opposed to the one used in the US (¦quot;consumer pays¦quot;).
08:13 November 2, 2011 by nolibs
@ChrisRea - Yep, went right over my head. It must have been late when I read the post ; )
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