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Germany's radical new packaging laws make recycling a matter not to disregard.

The third phase of Germany's controversial new packaging waste recycling law is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 1993. That is when retailers, distributors and manufacturers will be required to accept returns of all types of packaging used to contain and transport goods up to the point of sale or consumption. Included will be cardboard, styrofoam, foil wrapping, cans and plastic containers.

Phase one came into being last Dec. 1, when manufacturers and distributors were forced to accept all returned transportation materials such as crates, drums, pallets and styrofoam containers. Phase two fell into place on April 1, when retailers as well as manufacturers and distributors were obliged to receive all returned secondary packaging.

The requirement to take back sales packaging next year will not apply to manufacturers participating in the "green dot" program, which mandates regular collection of used packaging materials either directly from the consumer's domicile or from designated local collection points. This exception, however, applies only to sales packaging and not to secondary or transport packaging. Qualification for the green dot waiver depends on the system implemented meeting prescribed quotas for collection and recycling.

The green dot is the symbol which has been adopted by the Duales System Deutschland GmbH (DSD -- Dual System of Germany). The DSD collects a fee from over 400 participating manufacturers for the right to display the green dot on their products. The revenue generated is used to finance packaging waste collection and recycling programs that are already underway.

The green dot alerts consumers that such packaging should not be returned to the retail outlets but, instead, be consigned to specially-dedicated collection containers or be taken to local recycling centers. Furthermore, by displaying the symbol manufacturers visually communicate to end users that such packaging will be recycled or reused rather than dumped or incinerated.

Meanwhile, goods retailed without the green dot are not illegal. However, what is likely to happen in the future is that retailers, wholesalers and importers will increasingly reject packaged goods that do not carry the green dot. The DSD estimates that over 10 billion units currently being marketed in Germany display the environment-friendly symbol.
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Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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