Pfand - bottle deposit & bottle banks

Where to put your bottles - not an easy approach in Germany....

Have you been throwing away your bottles of all kinds here in Germany?
Don’t do it – we have a „Pfandsystem“ and they are worth more than you might think.....

PFAND - What does it mean?

In general it means a deposit on plastic and glass bottles for beer, soda, milk, cream and yogurt glasses (in every day life) or mugs/bottles/glasses at a market or Christmas market. This is to ensure the return of those items. It is up to go to get your deposit back. Usually the “Pfand” is added at the till and shows on your receipt. 

So how to get your money back?

Take your bottles to your supermarket, where you can deposit them in the so called Leergutautomaten (reverse vending machine) or go to your local Getränkemarkt (drinks supermarket) to get back your deposit - usually at the till. Some bottles need to go back to the shop where you bought them. But in general you can get your deposit back in every shop selling drinks.

How to work the „Leergutautomat“

Place one bottle at at time into the Leergutautomat, there it will be checked and the Pfand is added electronically. If you are done you need to press the button (orange, green, depends) for your credit receipt to be issued. This can be cashed in at the till and/or used to go towards your next spend in store.

Be aware – nowadays some supermarkets tend have more than one Leergutautomat (plastic / glass). If your bottle does not work in the one you are trying, then try again with the other one.

The different bottles types

Most products will identify themselves as

Mehrwegflaschen (multiple use bottles) 0.8-0.25 cents
- beer bottles, water/soft drink/juice (glass and plastic)
- yoghurt glasses, milk and cream bottles (at supermarkets only)

Einwegflaschen(single use bottles) 0.25cents
–  plastic bottles
– Drinks cans for carbonated drinks

(drinks crates) 3 Euro (and sometimes more)

Pfandfrei (deposit free) – there are a few plastic bottles which are without „Pfand“. You recylce them with your usual plastic waste in your Gelber Sack / Gelbe Tonne (yellow sack, yellow bin).

Wine, spirit, vinegar, oilbottles and alike are to be recycled and dropped at a bottle bank. Bottle banks can be found in your local neighborhood. Make sure to separate colorize (white, green and brown) and to respect the throw-in-times as it is quite noisy for nearby houses if the bottles are smashed within.

Some organic supermarkets have a wine bottle deposit system.

Depending on your personal sustainability goals, you can buy multiple use bottles (for drinks, yoghurt, milk) to protect resources. Either way, make sure to recycle properly to help reduce pollution and litter.

Need an overview about the Waste Separation in general? Check this out.

January 2019 by Kira Neumann
This blog post is a personal recommendation and based on personal experience. It has been prepared with the greatest possible care and does not claim to be correct, complete or up-to-date.“ Picture credit: Kiramiga

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