The European Commission Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 94/62/EC) has the twin objectives of lessening the environmental impact of packaging waste while at the same time ensuring the smooth functioning of the internal market. It provides Member States with a common framework for imposing environmental controls on packaging. It also sets out measures to prevent the production of packaging waste as well as measures to reuse packaging and to recycle or otherwise achieve recovery of packaging waste. The Directive provides requirements for the composition and the reusable and recoverable nature of packaging. The Directive envisages a balance being struck between considerations concerning the free circulation of goods and considerations concerning environmental protection. Metal cans (whether made from aluminium or steel) fulfil the essential requirements for composition and nature of packaging set out in the Directive.
Mandatory deposits came into effect in Germany in 2003 for beer, mineral water, and soft drinks sold in one-way cans and bottles of all types. The deposits were applied because the industry fell below the required 72% refillables quota (not recycling) for drinks required under the original 1991 Packaging Ordinance.