Happy News

Having established that the subject of garbage leads everywhere and that there is an enormous amount of it that we have little or no control over, short of buying much less stuff, I feel that I need to say something positive. Let’s look at what other countries are doing regarding Extended Producer Responsibility. Here’s a happy story.

In Germany the Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act requires businesses to eliminate waste production by implementing one or more of the following management strategies: waste avoidance which involves designing manufacturing processes to reduce the amount of waste produced, waste that is produced must be recycled or converted to energy, and/or waste that can’t be recycled must be disposed of in an environmentally safe manner.

“EPR was first pioneered in Europe over 20 years ago. Since then, the vast majority of EU Member States have introduced EPR for packaging, although the form of implementation varies from one country to the next, ranging from mandatory regulations to voluntary agreements between government and industry to voluntary industry initiatives. EPR for packaging in Europe has offered a much more certain future for the entire packaged goods sector. It is far less costly for consumers and society at large, and is the preferred policy tool for industry to drive recovery and recycling packaging rates.”



“In the European Union, extended producer responsibility is mandatory within the context of the WEEE, Batteries, and ELV Directives, which put the responsibility for the financing of collection, recycling and responsible end-of-life disposal of WEEE, batteries, accumulators and vehicles on producers. The Packaging Directive also indirectly invokes the EPR principle by requiring Member States (MS) to take necessary measures to ensure that systems are set up for the collection and recycling of packaging waste.  Additional waste streams for which producer responsibility organisations have been most commonly identified within the European Union include tyres, waste oil, paper and card, and construction and demolition waste. However, a much broader range of waste streams are subject to obligatory or voluntary producer responsibility systems in some MS, including: farm plastics, medicines and medical waste, plastic bags, photo-chemicals and chemicals, newspapers, refrigerants, pesticides and herbicides, and lamps, light bulbs and fittings.”


Trash Planet: Germany

“Germany leads the European nations in recycling, with around 70 percent of the waste the country generates successfully recovered and reused each year. To put that figure into perspective, consider this: In 2007, the U.S. was able to recover only about 33 percent of the waste generated that year.”

How do they do it?

“…while the country’s conscientious waste management strategy requires cooperation from the government, the industry and the citizens, it starts at the very beginning of the waste creation process – with the product manufacturers.

There are three simple components the manufacturers must consider: waste avoidance, waste recovery and environmentally compatible disposal.

By incorporating waste avoidance into industry, much of Germany’s waste management becomes “invisible,” as corporations are forced to re-think every aspect of manufacturing. Packaging, processes and disposal of items are all engineered with recycling and elimination of waste in mind.

Federal Waste Management Policy

In 1996, German lawmakers who were concerned about the country’s growing number of landfills passed the Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act, which requires businesses to eliminate waste production by implementing one or more of the three management strategies.

Waste avoidance is first priority because it encourages companies to design their manufacturing processes and packaging with elimination of wastefulness in mind. Second, waste that can’t be avoided must be recycled or converted into energy. Lastly, waste that can’t be recovered must be disposed of in a way that is environmentally safe.”

So, in Germany, those who create the waste are responsible for cleaning it up. The U.S., on the other hand, has a “consumer pays” policy, in which waste management is funded by citizens.

“Germany’s three-point strategy doesn’t apply to just the country’s solid and packaging wastes, but also to liquid, gaseous, hazardous, radioactive and medical wastes. The efforts have been hugely successful; according to the German Federal Statistical Office, between the years 1996 and 2007, the country has reduced its total net waste amount by more than 37.7 million U.S. tons.”

Marie Look, Earth911.com

To read more about how Germany handles its waste, go to:



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