Judgment by Federal Administration Court: Tübingen waste levy is lawful / Municipalities should follow the example – Nabu
The packaging tax levied since 2022 in Tübingen, Germany, is lawful and will remain in force – the same was decided by the Federal Administration Court in Leipzig on 24 May 2023 (BVerwG 9 CN 1.22). The grounds for the decision are that it is a local-consumption tax, which, according to the German constitution, the municipalities have a right to impose.

The Leipzig judges emphasised that the tax is levied only on take-away food and drinks. It was to be assumed that the consumption and thus also the use of the packaging takes place predominantly within the municipality. “Consequently, the local character of the tax is sufficiently ensured”, said the judgement.

The federal government’s waste law was also not against a municipal packaging tax because it pursues the same aims at local level as the union and federal legislation. According to EU law, waste prevention is at the top of the list in the waste hierarchy, says the judgement. Local taxes, which make single-use packaging more expensive, should not be excluded.

The packaging tax has to be paid from 1 January 2022 onward by all firms in Tübingen that sell food and drinks in single-use packs for immediate consumption or to take away. For boxes, chip trays, and coffee beakers, 50 cents is charged, and for single-use cutlery and other “aids” such as drinking straws or ice-cream spoons, the tax is 20 cents. The Tübingen city administration will now ask the 440 or so affected firms to submit a corresponding tax declaration.

Following the action by a Tübingen McDonald’s restaurant, the Administration Court of Baden-Württemberg in Mannheim initially decided in April 2022 that local authorities should not be allowed to charge a tax of this kind. The judges had criticised among other things that the Tübingen waste tax lacked the local character because to-go packs were also consumed or disposed of outside the city. The city’s administration appealed against the judgement.
“Obligation to use reusable alternatives fizzles out”
For many years, environmental advocacy groups such as Germany’s Nabu (Berlin; have been calling for legal taxes on disposable crockery and cutlery in order to stop the growing mountains of waste caused by take-away meals. “The court judgement by the Federal Administration Court is a strong sign: communities should follow Tübingen’s example and themselves introduce local taxes on disposable cutlery and crockery till we wait for a Germany-wide tax,” said Nabu’s managing director, Leif Miller.

Environmental associations have repeatedly pointed out in the past few months that the obligation to offer multi-use crockery and cutlery for take-way meals and drinks, which has been in place since this year, was not being well accepted by consumers.
09.06.2023 [252867-0]
Published on 09.06.2023
Kunststoffverpackungen: Tübinger Steuer ist rechtmäßigGerman version of this article...

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