The city of Tübingen pushed ahead with a tax on disposable packaging – and was right in court. Other cities in Germany fear a patchwork quilt.
After a ruling by the Federal Administrative Court in favor of the packaging tax in Tübingen, cities in Germany are still hesitant to follow the example of Baden-Württemberg. In a survey by the German Press Agency, the reasons given by municipalities were mostly the desire for a cross-city solution and the fact that the reasoning for the judgment was not yet available.
Tübingen has had a packaging tax since the beginning of 2022 – a fee is due for disposable tableware and packaging. This is to avoid mountains of rubbish in the city. The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig declared this to be legal in a landmark judgment at the end of May. The operator of a Tübingen McDonald’s branch had complained. The written reasons for the judgment are not yet available.
A packaging tax is currently not on the agenda in the city of Berlin. From Berlin’s point of view, a possible packaging tax should only be introduced at federal or European level, if at all, said a spokeswoman for the environmental administration. A municipal introduction would lead to a rugged tax landscape. The city also fears “complaints about equal treatment and competition”. At the same time, the spokeswoman said: “Such a packaging tax would probably significantly reduce the consumption of disposable products.”
Doubts about the effectiveness of the tax
According to a spokesman, the verdict is being “followed with interest” in Düsseldorf. However, there are no concrete plans to do the same thing in Tübingen. Among other things, the city points out that the so-called multi-way offer obligation has been in force in Germany since the beginning of the year.
The city of Stuttgart doubts the effectiveness of the tax. As a study published by the University of Tübingen shows, it is controversial whether such a tax actually leads to a reduction in packaging waste, a spokesman said. Therefore, together with the gastronomy, reusable systems are to be examined that the customers will also accept.
Also in the cities of Augsburg, Hildesheim and Bautzen there are currently no plans for a levy on disposable packaging.
In Trier, on the other hand, there was already an application for the introduction of the tax in 2019. Because of the ongoing proceedings from Tübingen, no decision has been made so far. The verdict and the reasoning should now be examined, the city said. The city of Munich is doing the same. At the same time, two city council factions are calling for the implementation of the packaging tax.
The introduction of the packaging tax is also to be examined in Nuremberg. The city said that she thinks the steering and incentive function associated with the packaging tax is very useful. But here, too, the administration would like to wait for the written justification of the judgment. An “island solution” only for Nuremberg also makes no sense. The city sees the federal government on the move to expand legislation and extend the special levy for products made of single-use plastic to include pizza boxes, aluminum trays and chewing gum.