Soccer World Cup sponsors McDonald's and the Coca-Cola Company have fallen foul of Germany's strict waste recycling regulations.

The violation, in the shape of a round, special edition Coke bottle - available at McDonald's outlets in host country Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland during the month-long tournament - is causing consternation among the federal association of drinks retailers, the GFGH, and environmentalists Deutsche Umwelthilfe.

The potential collector's item is part of the fast food titan's World Cup menu and is stamped with the word 'Mehrwegflasche', indicating it is returnable. However, McDonald's is not charging the customary deposit meant to ensure the bottle is returned for recycling.

Thunders Deutsche Umwelthilfe's director, Jürgen Resch: "This is an unbelievably brazen attack on the returnable bottle system."

The purveyor of burgers to the planet insists the plastic bottles are environmentally-friendly because they can be returned to containers in its restaurants, and then recycled.

And Coca-Cola claims they can be recycled at the plant near Berlin where the drinks are manufactured, although no agreement has been made for the bottles to be recycled via the nationwide Der Grüne Punkt (green point) system.

The environmental lobby is unimpressed with these assurances and has threatened legal action if McDonald's continues to advertise or sell the bottles.

Given the German government's goal of making the soccer tournament - which kicks off on Friday - environmentally friendly, the two global giants could be under pressure to rethink their World Cup-cola concept.

Data sourced from DW-World (Germany); additional content by WARC staff