How much deposit for bottles can you get in Germany?


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Deposit for bottles is a culture in Germany. Eventually every Expat becomes accustomed to collecting bottles.

Deposit for bottles: This has long been the norm in Germany. And that’s a good thing, because PET or returnable bottles can either be reused or recycled. Returning them conserves resources and is good for the environment. You can find out everything about deposit here.


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How long has the deposit for bottles been available?

The regulation that a deposit is levied on certain bottles and cans has been in effect in Germany since January 1st, 2003. So the one-way deposit is not really old yet. The situation is very different with the returnable deposit for glass bottles. But more on that later.

Until the end of April 2006, however, the deposit collection was still very uncomfortable for consumers and raised many questions because, due to different deposit systems, not all bottles could be returned everywhere.

Since May 2006, all shops that sell disposable packaging subject to a deposit have to take it back again if it is made of the same type of material. The only exception is for shops that have an area of ​​less than 200 square meters. These can limit the return of the deposit for beverage cans and bottles and for example only take back packaging that you sell.

Why was the deposit introduced?

Humans are lazy animals, and sometimes little happens when there is no incentive. The bottle deposit was introduced to give the consumer a reason to return the non-returnable or reusable bottles and beverage cans. Only in this way is it possible to conserve resources and avoid environmental pollution.

Which drinks have a deposit?

When the one-way deposit was introduced in 2003 for the sake of the environment, it was stipulated that it applies to all those bottles and cans whose reusable percentage is lower than it was in 1991. As a result, they were subject to a deposit

  • Beer,
  • Carbonated soft drinks as well
  • Sparkling and sparkling mineral water.

However, packaging in which

  • milk 
  • non-carbonated drinks,
  • Wine,
  • Champagne and
  • spirits

were sold.

The somewhat absurd consequence of this regulation was that the packaging, such as beverage cans for mixed beer drinks, was subject to a deposit, but not for mixtures with spirits such as vodka-lemon. One could quite rightly ask oneself what this is all about.

However, this circumstance was remedied on January 1, 2019, when the deposit obligation was extended. Since the key date, according to the Packaging Act (VerpackG),

  • Carbonated fruit or vegetable nectars as well
  • Alcopops in disposable bottles

subject to a deposit. Alcoholic mixed drinks with an alcohol content of at least 15 percent remain deposit-free. The same applies to bottles with a content of more than three liters or less than 100 ml: These are also exempt from the obligation to deposit.

Why is there no deposit on juice bottles e.g. B. from Granini?

Juice bottles made of PET are exempt from the deposit requirement for two reasons: 

  1. They contain non-carbonated drinks, so no deposit is charged on them in accordance with the Packaging Act.
  2. Some PET bottles that beverages such as juices are sold in have an extra barrier layer. Therefore, they cannot easily be recycled with the other PET bottles. Juice bottles for example from Granini therefore belong in the recycling collection, i.e. the yellow bag for packaging with the green point.

What types of deposit are there in Germany?

In Germany, according to the law, a distinction is made between the one-way and the returnable deposit. The names already reveal how the two differ:

  • With the one-way deposit, beverage bottles or cans are collected that are only used once,
  • With the returnable deposit, the containers are used several times.

Why is there a one-way deposit?

It is not new that containers that are used only once are not good for the environment. In order to avoid that they end up in nature or with the residual waste, the Packaging Act created an incentive for consumers to bring the beverage bottles back to the point of sale. By taking them back, this disposable packaging can then be recycled.

Returnable deposit: return for refilling

The reusable deposit is not regulated by law in Germany. The fact that a deposit is charged on bottles that can be filled several times (glass bottles around 50 times, PET bottles around 25 times) is therefore a voluntary agreement between buyer and seller.

The dealers charge this deposit in order to get as much of their packaging back as possible, because the new production would be significantly more expensive than the effort involved in getting the returnable bottles back with a deposit.

How do I recognize returnable bottles?

Whether or not there is money for empty bottles or beverage cans can be determined in various ways. It always makes sense to take a look at the content that was previously in it, because based on the type of drink, the consumer can determine whether a deposit is charged on it or not (see above). 

If you are unsure, these tips will help:

Recognize one-way returnable bottles

Beverage packaging that is only used once must be clearly recognizable and have an indication of the mandatory deposit in an easily visible place. This can either be the written note “one-way deposit”, “deposit bottle” or the deposit symbol of the Deutsche Pfandsystem GmbH (DPG).

Recognize returnable bottles

Glass bottles are usually reusable packaging and labeled “returnable bottle”, “returnable”, “returnable bottle” or “loan bottle”. Uniform legal labeling has not yet been provided, so you have to look carefully here to see whether it is disposable or whether a return is offered.

How much deposit is on the bottle?

How much money is added to the can or bottle when it is sold depends on the type of bottle or packaging, whether it is disposable or reusable, and also on the content. This is how much deposit has to be paid on the various packaging:

bottleAmount of the deposit
Disposable bottles (glass and PET)25 cents
Disposable cans25 cents
Returnable beer bottle (glass)8 cents
Reusable beer bottle (glass with swing top)       15 cents
Reusable water bottle (glass or PET)15 cents
Reusable bottle for juice and soft drinks15 cents
Juices, dairy products, bottled alcoholic beveragesno deposit

Special cases are e.g. B. yogurt glasses or beer barrels. While the yoghurt glasses usually have to pay a deposit of 15 cents, a beer barrel, i.e. a so-called “keg”, usually has a deposit of 50 euros.

Why is there more deposit on swing top bottles?

The amount of the bottle deposit for returnable bottles also depends on how complex the beverage container is to produce. “Normal” glass bottles for beer with crown caps are less expensive and therefore cheaper to produce than a bottle with a swing top. This difference in production costs is also reflected in the amount of the deposit.

How much deposit does a case of beer have?

How much money in the form of bottle deposit is in crates with empty beer bottles depends on what type of crate and what type of beer bottle it is. Those with crown caps are worth 8 cents in the German deposit system, while those with a swing top are worth 15 cents back. As a rule, a deposit of 1.50 euros is required for the box.

Assuming crates with 20 beer bottles, this results in a deposit value of 20×0.08 euros = 1.60 euros plus the deposit for the crate itself (1.50 euros). A crate of beer has a deposit value of 3.10 euros.

How much deposit does an empty box have?

A deposit also has to be paid on empty crates, since these too should be reused and both cost money and resources to manufacture. For a box of 20, a so-called “deposit” of 1.50 euros is usually charged. For a “half box”, i.e. one that only fits ten units, only 50 percent of the deposit is due: 75 cents.

Crate size
(number of bottles)       
Amount of the deposit
10 0.75 euros
20th      1.50 euros
24     1.50 euros

Deposit: Who has to accept or take back what?

Does every retailer have to accept all returnable bottles? The answer is set out in the Packaging Act: No. Nevertheless, in some cases the retailer also has to accept packaging made of glass or PET that he does not sell himself. However, a distinction must be made between disposable and reusable.

Disposable bottles: who has to take them back?

Sales outlets are only obliged to take back those one-way bottles and to pay out the corresponding deposit that they themselves have in their range. It depends on the type of bottle, not the brand.

Does your supermarket or discounter offer z. For example, if you buy water in non-returnable PET bottles, you have to take them back even if you didn’t buy them from him. The only decisive factor here is the material, not the content.

It is important, however, that if the retail space is smaller than 200 square meters, as mentioned above, the retailer alone has to take back the bottles that he sells himself.

Returnable bottles: who has to take them back?

It looks a little different with returnable bottles. The decisive factor here is not the material, but the brand. Since manufacturers z. If, in some cases, design quite different bottle shapes and these in turn only fit into the brand-specific crates, it would otherwise not be possible for retailers to sensibly use them for further use. Sales outlets therefore only have to accept those returnable bottles that they have in their range.

How much deposit on bottles can I give in?

Do you always collect the returnable bottles a little longer? Then maybe you are one of those people who you don’t want to have in front of you at the deposit machine because they have so many empties with them. But is there a limit to how many returnable bottles you can hand in at one time?

It is not legally binding, but the management has house authority and can therefore define an upper limit. Often the term “normal household quantities” is used. What this means exactly is then again a matter of interpretation.

Out of consideration for other customers and to avoid conflicts, you should therefore ideally not walk to the bottle return with several bags full of cans, reusable and PET bottles on Saturday, but rather bring back smaller quantities on a regular basis.

What does “deposit belong next to” mean?

On some old glass containers and also rubbish bins you will find the notice “Deposit belongs next to it”. This should protect reusable bottles from getting into the bin. Because the bottle usually not only breaks there, it also cannot get back to the retailer, where it is refilled and reusable. 

In order to conserve resources, returnable bottles should therefore not end up in the trash, but – if you don’t take them home again – put them next to the bin or the container so that someone else can take them with them and return them if necessary.

How much deposit is there on a gas cylinder?

Gas bottles are used for grilling, especially in summer. A deposit must also be paid on this. However, it also depends on what type of bottle it is. A look at the color is just as worthwhile as the size.

Color of the gas bottle   deposit
green / blue / redYes

You also have to pay an additional sum for the gray gas bottles when you buy them, but this is not a deposit, but a usage fee. So you won’t get this back if you return the bottle. However, for this fee you also receive a service: the maintenance and inspection of the bottle does not cost you anything.

You have to pay a deposit for the green, blue and red gas bottles, which you will be refunded upon return. The exact amount is not fixed and therefore varies from point of sale to point of sale, so ideally you should ask for it. However, you can expect roughly these amounts:

Size of the gas cylinder   Amount of the deposit
small (5 kg)approx. 30 euros
medium (11 kg)approx. 35 euros
large (33 kg)about 60 euros
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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