As part of the digital debate "The European Green Deal: How does the German mineral water sector contribute?", with which the Verband Deutscher Mineralbrunnen (VDM) and the Genossenschaft Deutscher Brunnen (GDB) presented themselves at the European level for the first time on 1 June 2021, the sector discussed the commitment and contribution of the German mineral water sector to the goals of the European Green Deal with representatives of EU institutions and stakeholders. Sustainable food production, the preservation of biodiversity, as well as climate and environmental protection were the focus of the exchange, in which the participants, who were connected from Brussels and from various countries, were also able to participate with questions.
"Sustainability is not just a buzzword for the German mineral water industry, but is associated with ambitious goals and measures. Natural mineral water already has a small carbon footprint today - through the commitment of German mineral springs, this is being continuously reduced," emphasised Dr Karl Tack, Chairman of the VDM, in his keynote speech at the opening of the event. More and more mineral springs in Germany are operating in an exemplary climate-neutral manner. With the Climate Neutrality 2030 initiative, the VDM and the GDB are accompanying the German mineral water companies on their way to climate neutrality by 2030 at the latest. "Our goal is that not only individual companies, but the entire mineral water industry follows the path to climate neutrality along an ambitious path by 2030. The VDM board also welcomes the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Climate Agreement and recommends that the association's member companies and their suppliers consistently align their reduction targets with it," says Tack, explaining the VDM's current board resolution, with which the German mineral springs are to shape their path to climate neutrality in a correspondingly ambitious and effective manner. By 2030, the entire process and supply chain (Scope 1 to 3) of the bottled natural product mineral water is to be made climate-neutral - in this context, the effective avoidance and reduction of CO2 emissions has priority.
"The greatest challenge is to save our planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. We want to make an active contribution to making Europe the first climate-neutral continent. The mineral water industry is clearly committed to the goal of being climate neutral by 2030," Markus Wolff, Chairman of the Board of the GDB, clarified the industry's commitment in his introductory speech. "In the age of sustainability, the cooperative idea is more modern than ever. This is visible in the reusable and closed-loop systems with which the German mineral springs have been making an active contribution to environmental protection for decades." The deposit-based systems of the mineral springs in Germany achieve a return rate of almost 100 per cent for both glass and PET. The high collection rate shows that the systems are used responsibly by consumers. Packaging systems of the German mineral springs thus do not contribute to the littering of oceans or the environment.
On the digital panel, Udo Kremer, Managing Director of VDM, and Tobias Bielenstein, Head of Public Affairs, Sustainability & Communication at GDB, discussed with MEP Jutta Paulus (The Greens/EFA), Stefan Sipka, Policy Analyst at the European Policy Center, and Clarissa Morawski, Managing Director of the international NGO Reloop. The discussants emphasised that the focus of the European Green Deal is not exclusively on achieving climate neutrality. In addition to this admittedly essential element, the issue of biodiversity in particular and, with regard to food packaging, circular and waste management play an equally important role. "The German mineral springs understand sustainability holistically and with their various initiatives pursue ambitious goals for sustainable food production, the preservation of biodiversity as well as for climate and environmental protection. When it comes to protecting our water resources, however, we also need government measures," Kremer clarified the commitment as well as demands of the German mineral springs. The reusable and closed-loop system of the German mineral springs is a role model for Europe, Bielenstein emphasised. "We also see the Green Deal as an impulse for innovation. The goal is to make the packaging systems of the German mineral springs even more sustainable and thus expand the effective contribution to the Green Deal."