Multinational corporations also face a growing variety of legislations designed to address environmental issues. Global concern for the environment extends beyond industrial; pollution, hazardous waste disposal, and rampant deforestation to include issues that focus directly on consumer products. Green marketing laws focus on environmentally friendly products and on product packaging and its effect on solid waste management.
Germany has passed the most stringent green marketing laws that regulate the management and recycling of packaging waste. The new packaging laws were introduced in three phases. The first phase required all transport packaging, such as crates, drums, pallets and Styrofoam containers, to be accepted back by the manufacturers and distributors for recycling. The second phase required manufacturers, distributors and retailers to accept all returned secondary packaging, including corrugated boxes, blister packs, packaging designed to prevent theft, packaging for vending machine applications and packaging for promotional purposes. The third phase requires all retailers, distributors and manufacturers to accept returned sales packaging, including cans, plastic containers for dairy products, foil wrapping, Styrofoam packages and folding cartons such as cereal boxes. The requirement for retailers to take back sales packaging has been suspended as long as the voluntary green dot program remains a viable substitute. A green dot on a package identifies manufacturers that have agreed to ensure a regular collection of used packaging materials directly from the consumer’s home or from designated local collection points.
Reclaiming recyclables extends beyond packaging to automobiles. By 2006, manufacturers based in European Union nations must take back any cars they produced that no longer have resale value and for proper disposal. Further, by the same year, 85 per cent of a scrapped car’s material must be recovered for future use.
Many European countries also have devised schemes to identify products that comply with certain criteria that make them more environmentally friendly than similar products. Products that meet these criteria are awarded an ecolabel that the manufacturer can display on packaging to signal to customer that it is an environmentally friendly product. The EC is becoming more aggressive in issuing new directives and in harmonizing ecolabeling and other environmental laws across all member states. Ecolabeling and EU packaging laws are discussed in more detail.
With the exception of the United States, antitrust laws were either nonexistent or not enforced in most of the world’s countries for the better part of the 20th century. However, the European Union, Japan, and many other countries have begun to actively enforce their antitrust laws patterned after these in the United States. Antimonopoly, price discrimination, supply restrictions and full line forcing are areas in which the European Court of Justice has dealt severe penalties. For example, before Procter & Gamble was allowed to buy VP- Schickedanz AG, a German hygiene products company, it had to agree to sell one of the German company’s divisions that produced Camelia brand of sanitary napkins. P & G already marketed a brand of sanitary napkins in Europe and the commission was concerned that allowing P &G to keep Camelia would give the company a controlling 60 percent of the German sanitary products market and 81 percent of Spain’s. In another instance, Coca-Cola was fined $ 1.8 million for anticompetitive practices by France’s antitrust authority.
The United States also intervenes when non US companies attempt to acquire American companies. Nestle’s proposed $2.8 billion acquisition of Dreyer’s Grand Ice cream hit a roadblock as US antitrust officials opposed the deal on grounds that it would lead to less competition and higher prices for gourmet ice cram in the US. At times, companies are subject to antitrust charges in more than one country. Microsoft had a partial victory against antitrust charges brought in the US only to face similar anticompetitive charges against Microsoft’s Windows 2000 operating system in the EU. The probe is based on possible competitive benefits to European software concerns if legal limits are placed on Microsoft. American companies have faced antitrust violations since the trust busting days of President Theodore Roosevelt but much less so in other parts of the world. Employment of antitrust in Europe was almost nonexistent until the early stages of the European Union established antitrust legislation.