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EU regulation: Tied caps on bottles are now mandatory

Many consumers are annoyed by them: firmly attached plastic lids on drinks bottles. They are now mandatory. However, the new regulation does not apply to all bottles.

In order to reduce plastic waste in the environment, loose caps on certain drinks are now banned in Germany. This applies to disposable packaging with lids made of plastic – such as juice cartons or disposable PET bottles – with a volume of up to three liters. According to the Federal Environment Ministry, glass or metal as well as reusable beverage containers are exempt from this requirement.

The reason for the introduction of the “tied lids” is a directive of the European Union (EU). According to the ministry, this directive is based on a study which found that plastic lids are among the most common types of plastic waste found on EU beaches.

Many consumers are already familiar with the lids. According to the Federal Environment Agency, the regulation that governs the requirements in Germany came into force on July 3, 2021 with a three-year transition period. “Since then, many companies have gradually converted their beverage packaging to meet the new requirements from July 3, 2024,” the agency said.

However, according to the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUV), containers that do not meet the new requirements but were placed on the market before the deadline can be sold without time limits.

No concrete figures yet on plastic waste reduction

However, some people are annoyed by the new closures. “The BMUV is aware that consumers do not always see the firmly attached lids as positive,” said a spokeswoman from the ministry. However, the aim of the directive is to protect the environment through minor measures. This is why the attached lids are required for certain beverage containers.

So far, neither the ministry nor the Federal Environment Agency have any figures on how much plastic waste could be reduced by the new requirement. According to the Environment Ministry, the federal government plans to evaluate the implementation of the new regulation in 2027.

Criticism from the consumer advice center

Philip Heldt, resource protection officer at the North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advice Center, is not convinced by the new screw caps: “I don’t think changing the type of cap is very effective.” He believes the law misses the core problem. “We use far too many disposable products,” says Heldt. “Changing caps is of no use to the environment.”

According to the expert, the new closures in many cases use slightly more material than the previous lids. Heldt believes that clear guidelines that must be followed are necessary – such as a regulation that requires the reduction of hollow spaces in products and thus reduces packaging waste. Bans on unnecessary packaging such as cardboard boxes for toothpaste would also lead to material savings and environmental relief.

Source: Stern

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