After years of political tug-of-war, Germany’s upper house of parliament or Bundesrat finally passed a new law on repackaging and recycling. Starting in early 2005, there will be a permanent deposit of 25 euro cents ($0.33) on all bottles of beer, water and soft drinks. As of early 2006, all exceptions for ice tee, non-carbonated sport drinks and alcopops – fruit flavored alcoholic beverages – will be removed. At that time, all stores selling non-recyclable bottles or cans will be required to take them back from the consumer. The law’s passage gained impetus earlier in the week when the European Court of Justice ruled the previous packaging and deposit system infringed upon EU guidelines on fair competition because it disadvantaged non-German companies, who did not have the same restrictions. Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin, who has lobbied extensively for the law, welcomed the Bundesrat vote, saying it paved the way for a universal national recycling system in keeping with EU guidelines. The retailers, drink manufacturers and packaging industry now all have one law to follow he said, and called its passage “a victory for reason.” The German Retailers Association, however, was far more critical, saying there was still room for clarity.