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GREEN PARTY

Greens propose €10 mobile phone deposit

Mobile phones should carry a deposit just like bottles, to encourage people to recycle them, a German Green MP has suggested.

Greens propose €10 mobile phone deposit
Photo: DPA

Dorothea Steiner told The Local she wanted to see a €10 deposit on mobiles, in the form of a discount on new phones – when a customer hands in an old one.

“Or if you don’t buy a new one, you can give the old one back and you get the money,” Steiner told The Local.

“It’s a first step to finally get a grip on the growing wilderness of scrapped electronic devices, and to significantly raise the proportion of recycled phones,” Steiner told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper on Thursday, when she presented the proposal to the German parliament.

Steiner added that efficient electronic recycling would not only help the environment, but would help save dwindling resources of precious metals. “Mobiles phones and other electronic devices use so many rare metals that it’s irresponsible to just throw them away,” the environmental policy spokeswoman said.

Steiner believes around 100 million mobile phones are currently being used in Germany. “At the same time, more than 80 million old mobiles are lying around in drawers,” she added.

It’s estimated that around 1.6 billion new mobile phones go on the market every year, which contain some 400 tons of silver, 38 tons of gold, and 14 tons of palladium, another rare metal essential for the electronics industry. “This treasure needs to be saved,” said Steiner.

Steiner put some of the blame for the mountains of scrapped electronics on large technology fairs, like CeBIT currently in Hannover, constantly selling new products. “New devices are coming on the market regularly and at ever shorter intervals,” she said in Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

“The mountain of obsolete models is growing all the time.”

The European Union has set targets for the recycling-percentage of electronic devices: 45 percent by 2016 and 65 percent by 2019. But Steiner believes this is not ambitious enough – she wants 60 percent by 2016 and 80 percent by 2019, and hopes a deposit scheme could help.

“Of course we haven’t worked out all the details yet, because we want to work out what would be the most practical for the mobile phone traders,” she told The Local. “It would depend on how the companies want to do it, but probably the phones would then cost €10 more.”

The Local/bk

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GREENS

Will Germany’s Greens face tougher election race after series of gaffes?

Germany's resurgent Green party, its sights set on the chancellery in September's election, has stumbled on the campaign trail over undeclared bonus payments and controversial comments about arming Ukraine.

Will Germany's Greens face tougher election race after series of gaffes?
Annalena Baerbock at a Greens Press Conference on May 17th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

But although support for the centre-left, ecologist Greens has slipped in the wake of the missteps, the party remains neck-and-neck with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

The Greens dipped by one percentage point in this week’s Forsa poll for broadcasters NTV/RTL but held on to the top spot at 25 percent. Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc, which has selected the unpopular Armin Laschet for the race to succeed Merkel, came a close second at 24 percent.

A different poll, carried out by Insa for Bild newspaper, put the
conservatives ahead at 26 percent followed by the Greens on 22 percent.

READ ALSO: From trailblazing radicals to Germany’s ‘most popular party’: Who are the Greens?

Tax slip

Last week, Greens co-leader Annalena Baerbock admitted she had failed to declare around 25,000 in supplementary income to parliament. It is Baerbock who has been tapped to lead her party into the September 26th vote.

The 40-year-old, who is thought to have a realistic shot at becoming Germany’s first Green chancellor, called it a “stupid oversight” that has since been corrected.

But opponents have leapt on the slip-up as a sign of hypocrisy from a party championing more transparency in politics.

The Sueddütsche daily said the case did not amount to a corruption scandal like the one that has snagged several of Merkel’s conservatives, who are accused of profiting from face mask contracts early on in the pandemic.

“But it weakens (Baerbock), because her campaign thrives on being more upstanding that her competitors,” it noted.

READ ALSO: ‘Stupid oversight’: German Green Chancellor candidate stumbles after failing to declare bonus

Annalena Baerbock on May 20th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

‘Defensive weapons’

Fellow Greens leader Robert Habeck meanwhile caused a storm when he suggested during a trip to eastern Ukraine that the country should be allowed to buy “defensive weapons” from the West.

The traditionally pacifist Green party was quick to disown the suggestion, saying it supported the current German government policy not to supply weapons to war zones.

Habeck’s remarks nevertheless rattled the centre-left Social Democrats, potential coalition partners in a future Green-led government.

The charismatic but gaffe-prone Habeck rowed back on Wednesday, saying he was referring to “night vision goggles, reconnaissance equipment and ammunition clearance”.

The turmoil comes at a delicate time for the Greens because Baerbock “is still cementing her image among the public”, Thorsten Faas, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, told AFP.

Baerbock, an expert in international law and mother of two, was chosen in April over Habeck to be the Greens’ chancellor candidate.

The nomination gave the Greens a boost that saw them overtake Merkel’s bloc in opinion polls for the first time.

But the honeymoon didn’t last long.

‘Ironic’ racism

Baerbock quickly became the subject of a barrage of fake news and online attacks, from false claims about her green policies and scrutiny of her education, to a photoshopped nude picture.

The Greens have pushed back, condemning the at times sexist attacks and launching an online “fire service” to expose false stories.

But the party had to put out more fires earlier this month when Green mayor Boris Palmer posted racist remarks on Facebook about a black soccer player.

Palmer claimed his comments had been meant ironically, but members of the Greens in Baden-Württemberg state overwhelmingly voted to exclude him from the party.

Baerbock herself denounced the comments a “racist and repulsive”.

“The Greens are still doing well in the polls,” the Handelsblatt daily
said. “But the election is still four months away. A lot can happen.”

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