World-Class Litterbugs

When Germany created the world's most advanced rubbish-reclamation system last year, Environment Minister Klaus Topfer proudly declared, "When it comes to recycling, we Germans are world champions." In fact, they are too good. Householders participating in the Green Dot program are discarding recyclable trash -- which features a special green trademark -- at such a prodigious rate that the whole system is in danger of breaking down.

Something like 100,000 tons of packaging materials bearing the green symbol of recyclability have piled up in warehouses, farm fields and abandoned aircraft hangers from Hamburg to Augsburg. Much more has been shipped abroad,...

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