Hamburg is definitely topping the league table of European cities when it comes to drastic environmental management — but are the latest measures misguided?
According to Le Monde, Germany's second largest city has published a document called "The Guide to Green Procurement," which consists of no less than 150 rules that must be followed by all Hamburg public service providers.
The 150-page document goes into detail about new eco-friendly measures to be put into effect immediately.
These include a total ban on purchasing disposable packaging, including bottled water and beer, coffee pods, and plastic plates and cutlery. Other rules ban the use of chlorine-based cleaning products and pollutant air fresheners, regulate lighting and encourage staff to use public transport instead of cars.
These rules, to be followed in all public spaces, are designed to save public money that would otherwise be spent on goods that could cause environmental harm.
Of the disposable coffee pods that will no longer be permitted to be bought with public money the guide says: "These portion packs cause unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation, and often contain polluting aluminium."
Coffee pods, made from a combination of aluminium and plastic, are big business: more than £112 million-worth of them were sold in the U.K. in the last year, with Nestle's Nespresso the most popular provider in Europe.
However Hamburg's outright ban on them has been criticised by the Foodservice Packaging Association. Executive director Martin Kersh told Packaging News: "With regard to coffee pods no one can possibly doubt Nestle's excellent environmental programme. They have made huge investments in over 30 countries to enable 80% of used pods to be recycled with the aim of 100% [sic].
"Pods respond to a consumer demand for coffee prepared in this way and provided obligations to deal with used pods are in place then the proposed ban is simply wrong, totally unfair and completely misguided."
Kersh also had harsh words for Hamburg's guide saying, "With regard to banning disposables in public buildings the proponents fail to take into account the additional carbon footprint of creating and delivering china and glass and the huge volumes of water and chemicals that are used to clean them.
"The whole point of life cycle assessments is to measure the environmental impact taking the whole process from creation to end of life into account not to cherry pick the parts that suit you. [sic]"
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