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Unauthorized discarding of returns soon prohibited?

At the suggestion of Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, the Federal Cabinet today launched the draft bill to amend the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act. In this way, the German government aims to improve waste prevention and increase recycling.

The new public procurement rules aim to increase demand for recycled materials. This is because there is often not yet a sufficiently large market for so-called recyclates. That is why the federal government is taking itself to task with this bill. In the future, the 6,000 procurement departments in federal agencies and federally owned and controlled companies are to give preference to products made from recycled materials over virgin materials. On the basis of the new law, they must – provided there are no unreasonable additional costs – give preference in their purchasing to products that conserve raw materials, are low-waste, repairable, low-pollutant and recyclable.

A new element in product stewardship is the so-called “duty of care.” With it, the German government is making manufacturers and retailers more accountable. “With the duty of care, the federal government is creating a legal basis for the first time to put a stop to the destruction of returns and surplus goods. This makes us the first in the European Union,” said Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze. In the areas of public procurement and duty of care, the German government is thus going well beyond what has been agreed across the EU.

In order to systematically illuminate the hitherto very non-transparent approach of some retailers, the Federal Environment Ministry is currently drafting a transparency ordinance. The necessary legal basis for this is contained in the amended Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act. Manufacturers and retailers must then clearly document how they handle unsold goods. One way is to sell these products cheaper or donate them.

Up to now, the cleaning of parks and streets has been paid for solely by the citizens through municipal fees. The new law is intended to change that. Manufacturers and distributors of disposable plastic products are to contribute to the costs of cleaning up public spaces in the future. “The goal is clear: We want a clean environment where there is neither trash nor toxic butts lying around,” said Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze.

In addition to these three central measures, the draft law contains further requirements of the EU Waste Framework Directive and, in part, already of the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive.

After today’s cabinet decision, the parliamentary procedure will be initiated. At the same time, the draft is notified to the European Commission.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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