The Bundestag has decided on a special levy for products made of single-use plastic in order to relieve the financial burden on cities and communities when it comes to cleaning streets and parks.

Under the law passed tonight, manufacturers of certain beverage cups, food wrappers or cigarettes will have to pay into a state fund and contribute to the cost of cleaning up discarded coffee cups and bags of crisps. Fireworks were also included in the scheme. A total of 400 million euros should flow into the coffers of the municipalities every year.

The traffic light factions approved the draft law, the opposition factions CDU/CSU, AfD and Linke voted against it. The plastic levy still has to pass the Federal Council.

Association does not go far enough

According to their own statements, the cities and municipalities in Germany pay hundreds of millions of euros every year to remove single-use plastic from the cityscape and empty public waste bins. The regulation therefore does not go far enough for the association of municipal companies (VKU). “In future, chewing gum, pizza boxes or aluminum trays should also be included in the manufacturer financing of municipal cleaning services,” said VKU Vice President Patrick Hasenkamp.

The economy, on the other hand, fears unnecessary burdens. Politicians must “show now that the actual design for the affected sectors is cost-efficient and fair without causing unnecessary burdens,” said Antje Gerstein, the managing director of the German trade association responsible for sustainability, the German press Agency. “As an economy, we have clearly spoken out in favor of a private-law model.” Unfortunately, politicians have chosen a different model.

Like the VKU, the German Association of Cities called for an expansion. “Whether the disposable waste is made of plastic, cardboard or aluminum makes no difference to the effort and costs of cleaning,” said Managing Director Helmut Dedy of the editorial network Germany. For the environmental policy spokesman for the Greens group, Jan-Niclas Gesenhues, the law is only a first step. During the final debate in the Bundestag, he expressed the hope that “many further steps will follow in order to implement a real circular economy”.