Here a bag of fries that got caught in the bushes, there a paper cup that the wind is blowing across the sidewalk: In Tübingen, the garbage problem was so big that the town hall introduced a packaging tax.

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A tax on the sale of disposable packaging has been in force in the university town since the beginning of the year: 50 cents are due for each disposable beverage container and for disposable tableware and food packaging, 20 cents for each disposable cutlery set.

A maximum of 1.50 euros will be charged per meal.

Restaurants, cafés and snack bars, but also petrol stations and bakeries, have to pay if they sell food and drinks in non-reusable packaging – regardless of whether they are to be taken away or consumed immediately.

Palmer: Packaging tax works

One month after its introduction, the packaging tax is already a success for Tübingen's Lord Mayor Boris Palmer.

“In the city we see significantly less rubbish, significantly less litter around the rubbish bins and significantly more suppliers of reusable tableware.

There is a real boom there," said Green politicians in an interview with the FAZ

The aim of the levy is not to generate income, but to avoid environmental and disposal costs.

"If the incentive tax works, we will save on the costs of waste disposal."

According to a first interim report by the city administration this week, 15 percent less waste was disposed of in municipal garbage cans in January.

According to this, around 30.7 tons of waste ended up in public waste containers in Tübingen, significantly less than in the comparable months of 2018 to 2020.

In January 2021, however, the amount of waste was unusually low due to the second corona lockdown, which is why the month was not used as a reference.

The town hall also points out that, as in the previous year, there was hardly any New Year's waste due to the ban on firecrackers.

Palmer expects the amount of garbage to decrease in the coming months.

McDonald's sues against "island solutions"

But the packaging tax is not well received by everyone.

Susanne Heppert, franchisee of the Tübingen branch of McDonald's, is suing the Mannheim Administrative Court against the levy.

She considers the municipal packaging tax to be disproportionate and refers to the additional costs.

“If I pass the price on to the guests, those on a tight budget will no longer be able to come.

If I bear the costs myself, we end up with at least a six-figure amount per year.” This not only endangers their existence, but also the jobs of their employees.

The group adds that "local isolated solutions and special routes" stand in the way of a nationwide regulation.

One is not fundamentally against regulations in the fight against packaging waste.

It's not the first time McDonald's has taken action against such a levy.

Kassel was the first city in Germany to introduce a municipal packaging tax in 1991, which the Federal Constitutional Court overturned seven years later after the company filed a lawsuit.