Packaging, cigarette butts, plastic cups and all sorts of throwaway items carelessly abandoned on the street or in parks. How much does it cost to collect and dispose of them correctly? Germany has just done the math and concluded that suppliers of disposable products should be paying.
This was announced by the Minister of the Environment Svenja Schulze, with the support of 1500 German local body utilities: "It was only fair that we disburden citizens and in turn ask the one-way manufacturers to front up on costs".
The cost of throwaway cups collection
The request from the German Environment Minister comes after the publication of a study commissioned by the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU). Based on data from 20 cities across Germany, the survey found that municipal waste management services collect 140 liters per resident of garbage abandoned on the street, in parks, in flower beds or in public bins every year. The collection and disposal of this type of waste, which escapes the recycling system, costs municipalities €700 million a year, which is equivalent to €8.30 for every German citizen. In particular, the removal of cigarette butts costs €225 million and that of disposable plastic cups €120 million.
About 22% of this litter is made up of single-use plastics and cigarette butts; 17% refer to other types of packaging in paper, glass or metal. All the rest of the collection is made up of plant materials, clippings, sand, food remains and, of course, dog poop.
Responsibility and recycling
"Making manufacturers of certain disposable products financially responsible for the consequences of their environmentally damaging business models is an important step towards greater equity in the distribution of costs," commented Michael Ebling, president of VKU and mayor of the city of Mainz.
Minister Schulze, peremptorily, declares that by summer 2021 plastic plates, single-use cutlery, straws and coffee cups should disappear from German parks and the solution cannot simply be to replace plastic items with disposable paper ones. "The alternative must be recycling".