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Germany’s polarised paper market at turning point?

Germany – ‘We live in exciting times – and things, it seems, are okay as long as we have money to patch up our problems,’ according to trend analyst Dr David Bosshart. Speaking at last week’s bvse paper conference in the German city of Düsseldorf, he pointed out that the outlook for recycling is ‘ever-changing’ and that it won’t do to ‘cling to the status quo’.

Indeed, the German industry is ′in a flux′, acknowledged bvse president Reinhold Schmidt. He lamented that meddling by the state had not ceased; in fact, the authorities were more determined than ever to claim a part of the materials flow. This would have considerable consequences not just for paper recycling businesses but also for the quality of recovered paper, delegates were told.

′It is my strong conviction that the private sector should not be forced into competition with state players,′ Schmidt argued. ′It is a slap in the face. A monopoly of raw materials cannot possibly benefit innovation or progress.′

′Crippling′ measures

He cited taxes of 19% and courthouse dramas as part of the every-day landscape for German paper recyclers. And a level playing field seems a distant prospect. ′Sadly, there is not one political party standing up for our best interests,′ Schmidt complained. ′No, they have only confirmed the taxes. Therefore, EU policies are required to ensure that national implementation of legislation cannot result in the crippling of our economy.′

In the words of Dr Bosshart, the industry is becoming polarised. ′You see growing tensions, like economy versus politics and globalisation versus re-nationalisation,′ he remarked. ′We might be at a turning point, where things go back to an old-fashioned state of hierarchy – placing kings (or governments and major corporations) at the top and ′′foot soldiers′′ (the people who actually drive the industry) at the bottom.′

Even so, there is a steadily-growing middle sector in Germany that could ′spark a revolution′. Bosshart told delegates: ′It represents hope, ambition, possibility. It will play a key role in determining the future of our industry.′

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