The German approach has concentrated on increasing the supply of recycled material but has done precious little to foster demand. The result has been the dumping of waste in other countries, including some developing countries, depressing the recycling industry there. Moreover, the German system sets arbitrary targets without any consideration for the costs and benefits of achieving those targets. Our calculations suggest the net cost to Germany could be three billion German marks per annum (around pounds 1bn per annum).
What the EC needs is a packaging tax so the industry receives a clear signal that the polluter must pay. The new EC directive on packaging waste allows governments to devise and implement such a tax. The Government's 1990 White Paper on the Environment entertained the idea of pollution taxes generally. It is time to stop dithering, and get on with it.
Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE)
University College London
London, WC1Reuse content