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The German trade deals with packaging.

The German trade deals with packaging

Each year, according to the Statistische Bundesamt, Germany deals with 32,000,000 metric tons of waste from private homes. With the unification of Germany adding another 16 million citizens, those figures will soon rise to 40 million tons per year. Soon, there will be no room for the waste, which could fill the Olympic stadium in Berlin nearly 20 times.

In the spring of 1989 the legislature began implementing plans to reduce waste by drastic measures that would become effective in 1990. The plans were to eliminate packaging waste. The program called for massive recycling, and, in the event that this was not possible, make the disposal the responsibility of the producer. While the manufacturer may have attempted to roll these expenses onto the consumer, it seemed unrealistic for coffee packagers.

Coffee packages will be affected by the new laws, but they carry specific problems caused by the aluminium laminate foils used for vacuum packs. In addition, coffee that is packed in paper and plastic provides unique disposal problems. It is neither possible to re-use old bags, for hygenic purposes, nor can the material be recycled. For now, the only way to dispose of the waste is to burn it.

Several alternatives have been proposed for replacing the current coffee package. However, pure paper and mono-plastic foils do not fulfill the need for aroma saving ground coffee. For the time being the industry must rely on the foils currently being used. However, a recyclable alternative would be greatly welcomed.

In August, with the prospect of huge mounds of waste in their minds, the industry introduced an alternative system to the waste management program currently in use. "Green point" was a system agreed upon by everyone. A green point is an indication that the industry will guarantee to take back all its waste and claim responsibility for its disposal. Packages with a green point are to be collected in separate containers and carried to a depot. From the depot, the manufacturers, all of whom have given their guarantee, will make their pick-up and handle disposal. disposal.

The green point system is not just a coffee industry solution. This program applies to all manufacturers. In the long run, it means that a substitute must be found for the current materials. The burning of waste will become more prohibitive in the future.

The problem of combined foils with aluminum laminate remains unsolved, but several achievements have been made. Jacobs Suchard has announced it will substitute wrapping foils containing aluminum with varnished paper foils. The aluminum will be reduced by 46% at a savings of 500 tons of waste per year. Eduscho is test marketing the acceptance of unbleached inside bags, and is reducing the packaging by eliminating the outside cardboard box and glue labels. Deutsche Extrakt Kaffee is filling their soluble coffee into double thick glasses, and Melitta has introduced unbleached filter bags. Other manufacturers have been encouraged to find alternative measures for packaging that will help decrease the level of waste.

The government has been willing to give this "green point" system, and other, as yet untried, systems, the approval to "go ahead." These national activities will also be tried throughout the European Community. The Commission is preparing directives to tackle other waste problems.

As positive as the achievements of the past are to be valued, much will have to be done to meet the demands of the future.
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Author:Kurht, Cornel
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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