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Competition & EU law insights

Keeping you up to date on Competition & EU law developments in Europe and beyond.

| 1 minute read

German Federal Cartel Office greenlights eco-friendly reusable plant trays scheme

In a significant step towards sustainability, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) has approved an innovative initiative by Euro Plant Tray eG, aimed at introducing a recycling system for plastic-based plant trays. This system, which seeks to replace the prevalent single-use plastic trays, marks a major effort to reduce plastic waste in the plant industry.

The initiative involves a cooperative approach, bringing together multiple industry players to create a sustainable alternative to the current plastic-heavy practices. The new system's trays are designed for reuse, significantly cutting down on plastic waste and promoting an eco-friendlier method of plant transportation.

Andreas Mundt, President of the FCO, welcomed the initiative, emphasising that it promotes both sustainability and competition objectives. Mundt stated, “This project is another example of a sustainability initiative in which the Bundeskartellamt supports companies in complying with the applicable competition law rules.”

The initiative was deemed compatible with competition law because the system had safeguards installed to ensure that any data exchange between its participants (some of which were competitors on one or more market levels) was limited to the absolute minimum necessary to make the system work, and data would be shared in aggregated (non-identifiable) form only. Furthermore, participation in the system is and remains voluntary and the system is open to all market participants, current and future, preventing any anti-competitive foreclosure.

This decision is part of the FCO’s broader efforts to support sustainability initiatives within the framework of competition law. We already reported on two other initiatives that were also investigated and ultimately cleared by the FCO in our previous article of 2022. In the meantime, the EU Commission’s new Horizontal Guidelines of 2023 have also provided further guidance for sustainability initiatives between competitors, a topic that we have discussed in more detail here.

This new decision by the German FCO showcases again that competition law does not stand in the way of sustainability initiatives, including between competitors – always provided that they are designed correctly and do not facilitate collusion. 

If you need more information or further guidance in this area, please contact Dr. Stephan Waldheim and Maren Steiert.



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