Bottle Recycling in Deutschland

The bottle recycling maching at my local supermarket. Taken on my mobile phone whilst I was trying to look like I wasn't taking a photo, so it's a little blurry.

Back in Australia, recycling your PET bottles goes something like this – put the empty bottle in your recycling bin.  Simple.

In Germany things are a little more complicated but ultimately cooler.  In Germany you pay a pfand (deposit) of about 15 cents for a 500mL bottle or 25 cents for a 1.5 litre bottle.  However, you get your pfand back when you deposit your empty bottle in a bottle recycling machine that are found in every single supermarket.

Here’s the drill.  Collect all your empty PET bottles in a plastic bag.  Take said bottle filled plastic bag with you to the supermarket.  Insert each bottle into the machine making sure the barcode is facing up (that instruction was fun to translate the 1st time I attempted bottle recycling).  Watch the machine light up and the insides spin around as it recycles your bottle.  After you have inserted all your bottles in the machine print out your receipt.  Go do your shopping.  At the checkout give the cashier your bottle recycling receipt, this amount is taken off your shopping bill.

How cool is that?  Much more fun that simply placing your bottle in the recycling bin.  However, it does mean that every Friday I carry home from work a plastic bag containing my empty Coke bottles from the week.  It does make me look rather odd and all for getting only about a euro off my shopping bill.  Still, I enjoy, perhaps a little too much, the act of recycling my bottles here.

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6 thoughts on “Bottle Recycling in Deutschland

  1. The pfand isn’t actually about the size of the bottle, it’s a combination of factors at play: Generally speaking lightweight plastic bottles are 25 cents, heavy weight plastic bottles are 15 cents. There are other things with pfands–for example beer bottles have 8 cent pfands, while there are pfands attached to the glass bottles that some brands of yogurt come in.

    For some reason, though, wine bottles don’t have pfands…

    • I did not know that. My 500ml Coke bottle is 15 cents whilst my 1.5L bottle of water is 25c so I thought it was done on size. Thanks for letting me know. :)

  2. Amazing. Here in Italy this will happen perhaps next century. Unfortunately recycling is far down the list of priorities in northern Italy, with the rubbish burden often being relieved by lucrative dumping in the south!
    Also spoke today with a lady who compared the immediacy of the German health system with the circus of what goes on here – and let’s not go near doctor-patient rapports.
    Enjoy the best of Germany and I’ll concentrate on shoes…

  3. Yeah in the netherlands they have that system from as long as i can remember. I’m currently trying to figure out what they recycle where we live now. I think we have a bin for paper and possibly one for all plastics

  4. Thanks for the how to for these recycling machines….you saved some new Hamburgers time, confusion, and embarrassment!!

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