Environmental aid calls for combating disposable cups and the like | Free press

Ordering a pizza or coffee at a kiosk – take-out takes a lot of packaging waste. It’s high time to act against the rubbish problem, environmentalists say.


To reduce packaging waste, German Environmental Aid (DUH) is calling on cities to do more in the fight against disposable cups and other disposable items. “Littering in public spaces has reached dramatic levels in recent years,” said DUH federal director Barbara Metz. “There is an urgent need to do something to switch to a reusable device.” The organization recently wrote to 202 cities asking for the fastest possible responses to city council plans.

DUH advocates funding restaurants that are switching to reusable appliances and have additional costs for dishwashers and dishes. DUH also believes city taxes are useful to raise the cost of disposable packaging. In addition, authorities should no longer be able to use take-away cups, plates or boxes in municipal canteens that are intended for single use only.

Lots of plastic waste to avoid

According to estimates of environmental aid, more than 2.5 billion disposable cups, food boxes, plates and cutlery can be avoided in the 202 cities it is now in contact with. This in turn would mean 27,000 tonnes less waste and 84,000 tonnes of CO2. The estimate includes the amount of CO2 that would be generated in the production of reusable alternatives.

In the days of Corona, the amount of disposable tableware has increased significantly, for example because people work a lot from the home office and order food from courier companies. As a result, more pizza boxes and plastic trays end up in the baskets than before. Plus, there are tons of take-away cups that are thrown away after a single use.

The reusable alternative becomes mandatory

Federal law may bring some improvement soon: from January, restaurants must offer reusable alternatives. Food can still be sold in non-reusable packaging, but the consumer must be able to choose a reusable alternative. However, from the DUH expert Metz’s point of view, this is far from sufficient. “A restaurateur would have satisfied the bid if he had put a reusable mug on the shelf and let the dust collect there.” There are also extensive exemptions for smaller businesses. “In Berlin-Mitte alone, more than 500 snack bars and kiosks are exempt from reusable tenders.”

Environmental aid now hopes for cities to consistently tackle the rubbish problem. In 2020 and 2021, she wrote to 130 cities and districts asking for funds. The feedback was mostly positive, says Metz. “Most city administrations are aware that there is a need for action.” The desire is there, but sometimes the resources are still lacking.

The environmental aid organization mentioned Hamburg, Munich and Tübingen as positive examples of cities that are actively taking action against disposable packaging. From this year on, a consumption tax applies in Swabia, which, among other things, charges 50 cents for each disposable container for drinks. Due to a legal dispute with the local McDonald’s branch, the tax will only be collected after Tübingen’s advantage before the Federal Administrative Court. (dpa)

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