Deposit bottles limit in discounters and supermarkets in Germany: How many bottles can you return at once? (Pfandflachen Rückgabe)


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Can I return as many deposit bottles to the supermarket as I want or is there an upper deposit bottles limit in Germany?

Deposit bottles limit in Germany: Long queues often form in front of the deposit machine because some customers hand in a huge number of bottles. But how much deposit is actually allowed?

Deposit bottles limit

Deposit bottles limit in the supermarket: Aldi, Lidl and Co. can decide for themselves

Shops in Germany can decide for themselves how many bottles they want to accept from one person at a time. Because they have the house rules. And the law does not regulate whether an upper limit may be set. And so some supermarkets and discounters have decided that a maximum of 20 bottles may be submitted in one batch.

Some discounters and supermarkets are fed up with the huge amounts of deposits at once and are therefore making individual decisions on handling deposit bottles.

▶︎ They are introducing a deposit bottles limit. In some stores, ONLY 20 bottles and cans can be returned in one batch.

Why is this restriction annoying?

▶︎ A lot of bottle collectors in Germany will have to make multiple trips to the supermarket

▶︎ After a birthday party or another celebration there can also be more empty cans and bottles that have to be handed in after the weekend. 

study in germany

The German Packaging Act stipulates that supermarkets must take back certain deposit goods. However, there is still no legal regulation as to whether a maximum amount may be set. Many markets exploit this gap.

In principle, the return of a deposit may not be refused. One-way PET bottles must be taken back wherever products made from the same material are sold. Reusable bottles usually have to be handed in where they were bought. 

Additionally most dealers also take back the empties if they do not sell the brand themselves regularly.

Deposit bottles limit

Deposit bottles limit: This applies in the supermarket – and you have to pay attention to that

▶︎ Changes in the supermarket at the beginning of 2022: Among other things, the deposit system was revised. Until December 2021, the content was decisive. Now the packaging determines whether a deposit is due. 


Until 2021, water, carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, beers and mixed beer drinks will be subject to the mandatory deposit. Milk, many fruit and vegetable juices have been added since 2022. 

Products such as apple wine, cider or energy drinks are have a deposit and can be returned to the supermarket.

REMEMBER: Small supermarkets only have to take back brands that they sell themselves. Retailers with a sales area of ​​less than 200 square meters  only have to take back non-returnable bottles that they stock themselves. The regular supermarket is usually larger.

Deposit bottles limit

Why don’t supermarkets in Germany want to accept unlimited number of bottles?

One word: FRAUD!

Deposit fraudsters in Germany have become very clever! Cash in at Aldi, Lidl & Co. has become a game of cat and mouse!

Deposit bottles fraud in Germany

Fishing line trick

The deposit bottle is put into the machine and pulled back with a cord. This process can theoretically be repeated as often as you like.
Recent arrest: Two young people from Marktleugast (Kulmbach district) were aiming for such quick “payday”.

Solution: discounters and supermarkets have taken countermeasures against the fishing trick. The machine shows the message, “Object was moved backwards/stopped

Self-printed barcodes

Some fraudsters are actually printing their own barcodes and sticking them on any bottle (including non-returnables)

Recent arrest: In a current curious case from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania from May 2022, a fraudster tried to return a lot of bottles with a self-printed barcode. The problem: He had painted the barcodes on 144 cups and bottles on which there was not deposit.


Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany


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