Environmental activists make us believe that the country is swamped by an avalanche of waste. And even though Germans love their stuff organised (and thus throw their waste in recycle bins), the cups are piling up and cause a national headache. Or so they say.
The mayor of Berlin acknowledges the urgency of the situation. The town hall already published a recommendation presumably to cover the cleaning costs by charging a special fee of 20 Euro cents per cup.
So who will pay this? The coffee shop owners? Or the consumers ordering their take-away drinks? Or all coffee drinkers? Maybe Berliners will start drinking less coffee. Or they will drink it at the table, in the coffee shop. Maybe they will walk around the city with their own porcelain mugs bearing a print ‘For cleaner Berlin’ on them?
There is a bit of analogy here. The politicians in Berlin point at the ever-discussed disposable plastic bags. Various retail chains have reported that after they started charging for them, their use decreased by half. But hey, isn’t this comparison a bit lame? Grabbing ten free plastic bags at the supermarket cashier probably doesn’t happen any more – but do coffee drinkers really use ten cups at a time?
Yet another interesting report estimates an influx into the municipality’s wallet of presumably 56 million Euros annually from the coffee drinkers. They can really use the funds to…to do what? To be used for ‘various environmental projects’, as the official statement claims.
Yes. Somebody has to clean up and the cleaning companies come at costs. But have you seen extraordinary amounts of used coffee cups on the side walks? At other public spaces? People usually throw them in dust bins just like they deposit any other waste. So should mothers walking in the park get ready for Pampers waste tax whenever they throw a used diaper in the bin?
Just like taxes on alcohol and nicotine the real reason behind the tax appears to be simply that it fills the hole in the state’s coffers; the reason for providing the rationale – that the tax is really necessary to control human vices and save the environment at the same time – appears to just that this makes it easier for the population to swallow the new tax; or more difficult to object against it. For who would be against the environment?
On the encouraging side; the fact that governments feel it is necessary to get ever more creative in order to justify the imposition of new taxes -in order to fund their spendthrift habits- perhaps shows that they are reaching the limit of their taxing ability…
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