IN THIS "throwaway" age the Germans are trying to be difficult. Their stringent waste laws are creating a rift in the European Commission (EC) which wants lower and more flexible standards.
Germany has a law, popularly known as the "Topfer Law" -- after Klaus Topfer, Germany's environment minister -- which makes it mandatory that by 1995 as much as 80 per cent of the packaging waste is collected. Of this 90 per cent of the glass and metal waste and 80 per cent of the plastic and paper waste will have to be recycled -- reused in some form, not dumped or burnt as waste. German industries are working overtime to reduce their packaging.
But other European industries see this as green protectionism as it puts them at a distinct disadvantage. Exporters of Scotch whiskey, for instance, have had to take out the cardboard boxes off their bottles to sell them in Germany. The French, British and Belgians have all complained to the EC, which is divided over the issue. Its own laws are more flexible and only ask for the waste to be "recovered" which means it could be burnt or composted. EC now faces the question: Can Germany be allowed to face it alone or will the laggards in waste recycling drag it down to the dumps? The answer is expected soon.
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