D.he Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) is planning to expand the mandatory deposit. From 2022 onwards, the content of one-way beverage packaging will obviously no longer be decisive, but the type of packaging material.
This is shown by the draft bill of the “Law for the implementation of the requirements of the single-use plastics directive and the waste framework directive in the packaging law and in other laws”, which WELT is available.
According to this, the BMU is planning that in future all single-use plastic beverage bottles and beverage cans will be subject to a deposit, including plastic bottles with milk or fruit juices, nectars and smoothies, which have so far been excluded.
The reactions to this vary among the industries involved. The fruit juice manufacturers, for example, welcome the ministry’s plans. “We support these changes”, says Klaus Heitlinger, the managing director of the Association of the German Fruit Juice Industry (VdF).
However, individual companies such as Eckes-Granini or the Coca-Cola smoothie manufacturer Innocent also welcome a deposit obligation that their industry fought bitterly when it was introduced in 2003.
Even the word “sprouting germ” is used
In the dairies, however, there is resistance. An extension of the deposit obligation is to be rejected, says a letter from the milk industry association (MIV) to several committees in the Bundestag.
Chief Executive Eckhard Heuser first cites the issue of hygiene as a reason: “The machines for taking back and subsequent storage in retail would not only lead to unpleasant smells, but also a microbiological problem that the machines previously used could not solve.” the remaining filling in the bottles, which can escape when crushed in the machine.
This also concerns supermarkets and discounters. “Drinks containing milk place enormous demands on hygiene, especially when combined with sugar from lemonades,” says a spokesman for the German Trade Association (HDE). A supermarket chain even uses the word “sprouting germ”.
The dairies therefore fear that retailers will delist milk in plastic bottles as a consequence, should the previous exception actually be lifted. “That would be tantamount to a sales ban,” complains Heuser, according to which the share of single-use plastic bottles in the milk market is currently around 15 percent.
Problematic minimum recyclate rate
The discounters in particular have milk filled in non-returnable plastic bottles; Lidl, for example, has pasture and alpine milk from its own brand Milbona in this type of packaging, while competitor Aldi Nord also offers alpine milk from the Fair & Gut brand.
The majority, however, is made up of mixed milk drinks, for which there could still be an exception, as can be seen from the draft bill, at least if “none of the additives is used to completely or partially replace a milk component”.
The BMU leaves open why: “We are currently still in the process of departmental coordination on the draft, shortly before the association hearing. We cannot provide any information on intermediate results, ”the ministry said.
The MIV also finds a planned minimum recyclate quota for the production of one-way packaging problematic. The ministerial draft provides for a magnitude of 25 percent in 2025 and then 30 percent in 2030.
In principle, there is broad approval for such a regulation, for example from environmental associations, waste disposal companies, recyclers and in the food industry. But milk is a special case here too.
Question of technical feasibility
“Because packaging for dairy products usually has fatty residues,” explains MIV boss Heuser. And removing this fat is not easily possible. “As long as this is not guaranteed, these recyclates cannot be used,” the industry representative wrote in his letter to the parliamentarians.
So it must first be checked in principle whether this recycling rate for packaging for milk products is technically feasible at all.
And according to Heuser, that is also happening, specifically on behalf of the EU Commission. The British research and consulting company Eunomia is investigating which recyclates can be used, expanded and recycled.
This test is scheduled to run until the end of 2022. “We should urgently wait for these results,” demands Heuser – not without a swipe at the BMU, which is planning to implement its plans for the beginning of 2022.