Essentially, the German Pfand system is a cycle. The drinks manufacturer fills his product, for example, beer or water, into these bottles. These bottles are sold to wholesalers or retailers. The wholesaler or retailer pays a deposit to the producer. This deposit is then passed on directly to the customer in the form of a surcharge. In the case of wholesalers, there is an extra step in the chain as he passes this on to individual retailers such as your local kiosk. As end customers, we then pay this deposit, or Pfand , to the supermarket, kiosk, Getränkemarkt or whoever and we get it back when we return the bottles.
Plastic food packaging wouldn’t survive this, I don’t think. You rip it open to access the food inside it and half the time you yourself cats reuse it while the food is in the fridge as it splits all over the place. Leave alone reusing it to repackage and resell
The packaging doesn’t necessarily need to be 100% reusable though.
Its a good first start to get the waste back with the manufacturer. If its completely unrecyclable then the manufacturer will have to pay for disposable, and reuse becomes relatively cheaper. Some extra nudges might be needed to encourage certain behaviours.
I think this is a great idea. Always love doing this when I go abroad. You also find people will go out of their way to recycle the products to get their money back
I agree with the original poster. I used to live near the German border and have seen how well the German Pfand system works. It is also in line with the Drink Return Deposit Scheme that the government was suggesting recently.
I just think it should go a step further an include all drinks containers, as well as pots (e.g. ice cream, yoghurt, cream, etc.). There is no reason at all why manufacturers couldn’t choose to use packaging materials that could easily withstand the return, clean and refill cycle for these products.
In Germany, the Pfand system is very successful: I read that since its introduction the amount of materials recycled (of those that fall under the scheme) has risen to 97%. That is infinitely better than what is currently happening in the UK.
The system also forces companies to take some responsibility for the disposal of the packaging that they put out into the world. At the same time, it encourages consumers to make good choices and to also take responsibility for the recycling or reuse of their waste.
Furthermore, this system cuts out the councils as the middlemen. This would provide clarity for the consumer as to what can be recycled and where. Council recycling varies a lot from one council to another and not all of them accept all products (which is also a disgrace).
Or just drink water?
A deposit on any part of our consumption of goods would be a good thing. Encouraging recycling and reducing littering.
Unfortunately, a lot of people still buy bottled water…so saying “drink water” is maybe a little too simplistic as a solution. In some places (e.g. at airports, train stations, etc.), you don’t necessarily have tap water available either and at London City Airport for example they don’t have water fountains and the bathroom taps always seem to be turned to “hot” (maybe to convince people to by expensive bottled drinks?) Water fountains should also be a legal requirement for public places…that would certainly also help to reduce the use of single use plastics.
And spread use of easily available and obvious water points to encourage use without embarrassment or purchase of goods in the outlet. Manchester airport is an example where it is almost impossible to find any - and people need to know that they can take through empty bottles.
But this is a system for bottles, mainly glass bottles. I agree this wouldn’t work for plastic. But it isn’t just the production of plastic that is unsustainable. Even glass, a more eco-friendly alternative than plastic, is still really damaging to the planet when treated as single-use.
Yes but we wouldn’t need to use them for single use if there was a system where people could return them. Perhaps possibly in exchange for a reward to try to encourage people? Plus although glass is damaging to produce it can’t be as damaging as plastic or as damaging after production? (Not biodegrading etc.)
I visited Sweden and there you can recycle plastic bottles i a machine and receive money off in-store, the effect of this is that you see citizens out litter picking as it pays, great interactive way to get people involved in the “Plastic Divorce” and refocus our use and demand for plastics, also Sweden was much cleaner than London period!
But how green is the machine? too many questions become very complex very quick… one day we will crack it…
Are the bottles recycled? I’m assuming they can’t be washed and re-used, which means that the plastic is still on the planet. Alternatives need to be found to plastic bottles.
We used to do this when I was small with the Corona bottles it did work.