New regulation for bottle deposits from January 1, 2022


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So far, not all bottles from German supermarkets were subject to a deposit – but that is about to change 

There has been a deposit requirement in Germany since 2003 – albeit with a number of exceptions. This is now over: From January 2022, consumers will get a deposit back on almost all beverages in non-returnable PET bottles or cans.


What you can expect from January 2022

Next year there will be some changes to the existing deposit rules. You can find out what you have to consider here. 

  • From 2022: Deposit on all drinks in plastic bottles – including juices and mixed alcoholic drinks
  • From 2024: deposit also on milk drinks in plastic bottles
  • From 2025: 25 percent recycled plastic in bottles
  • From 2023: Only returnable containers for delivery services and caterers

Disposable and reusable – what’s the difference?

In Germany there are disposable and returnable bottles- There is a deposit of 25 cents on non-returnable bottles and cans. 

For returnable bottles – whether made of plastic or glass – you usually get 15 cents, for beer bottles it is usually only 8 cents. Returnable returnable bottles are then cleaned and refilled. A single returnable bottle can make up to 50 cycles before it is recycled

PET returnable bottles don’t make as many circulations as glass bottles. Non-returnable bottles, e.g. made of PET, only come into circulation once and are then directly recycled. However, recycling PET requires less energy than glass. In general, the production of glass bottles is very resource-intensive. But with reusable it doesn’t play a big role because the bottle is used many times.


Why is there no deposit on some bottles?

The deposit obligation came into force many years ago. In the packaging segment, however, there were numerous exceptions, for example for wine, sparkling wine, spirits, milk, fruit or vegetable juices. 

From 2022 these exceptions will no longer apply. From January 1, 2022, all PET bottles and cans are subject to a deposit. However, there are still a few exceptions – namely a transition period for milk and mixed milk drinks until January 1, 2024. This is precisely regulated in the Packaging Act, Section 31.

Do shops that sell returnable bottles also have to accept the empties?

YES, even though you have to differentiate between reusable and disposable,” says the packaging expert. 

▶ In shops larger than 200 square meters, all one-way beverage packaging with a deposit must be taken back from the same material that is also offered. If the shop only sells cans, they only have to take back cans.

▶ The acceptance of returnable bottles, however, is not regulated in the Packaging Act. These can usually be handed in where they are also sold. You are usually not sent away with it. Returnable bottles or boxes that a store does not have in its range are usually not taken back. After all, this bottle has to go back to the bottler.

New deposit rules 2022: deposit on juices and alcoholic beverages

Anyone who regularly buys juices or mixed alcoholic drinks in plastic bottles from Aldi , Rewe and Co. has not had to deal with deposit returns. In addition to energy drinks and other “niche products”, they have long been considered deposit-free.

From January 2022, however, things will look very different in this respect. Because the new deposit law then stipulates that a deposit of 25 cents is levied on all non-returnable plastic bottles with a content of up to three liters. Beverage cans will not be spared this change either. Only bottles and cans that are already in circulation are then free of deposit – at least until July 1, 2022.


New deposit rules 2022: soon also a deposit on milk beverages

Another change that the federal government announced for the coming years should prove to be rather controversial. Because from 2024, milk drinks in plastic bottles will also be subject to a deposit. In terms of hygiene, however, this measure could lead to problems when recycling, because among other things, mold can form in the packaging. Plastic bottles for milk belong in the yellow sack and not in the reverse vending machine.

New deposit rules 2022: Changes for one-way bottles and delivery services

▶ In addition to the new deposit regulations, other things are also changing in the world of one-way bottles. Because from 2025 these must consist of at least 25 percent recycled plastic – from 2030 even 30 percent.

▶ In addition, delivery services, caterers and restaurants that offer “food to go” will only be allowed to use reusable containers throughout the EU from 2023 onwards.

▶ Single-use plastic products such as straws and cutlery have been banned since July 2021 . Even if the new measures may seem drastic, the following applies: if you want to save the environment, you shouldn’t do things by halves.

Deposit on vegetable and fruit juices soon

The planned change will be felt in particular by customers who often buy smoothies, fresh fruit or vegetable juices or alcoholic mixed drinks from Rewe, Edeka and Co.

The tougher deposit rule then primarily applies to drinks from the refrigerated counter. Customers should then pay 25 cents more for the products.

When you return the package, the deposit will be returned to you. With the measure, politicians want to take action against the high amounts of plastic waste in retail. With the help of the deposit, consumers are to be sensitized and to switch to environmentally friendly reusable alternatives made of, for example, glass.

Until now, carbonated fruit juice spritzers were subject to a deposit, but non-carbonated fruit juice was not.

From 2022 onwards, consumers will pay deposits across the board:

  • Smoothies in small plastic bottles and cans (for example from Innocent (Coca-Cola))
  • Vegetable shots (such as ginger shots from Solevita or Rio D’Oro)
  • Juices in plastic bottles (e.g. from Hohes C, Valensina, Punica) or
  • fresh O-juices of the own brands from Rewe, Edeka, Aldi or Lidl.

In addition, a deposit of 25 cents is due for all alcoholic mixed drinks, which are also often found in the snack and refrigerated counters in supermarkets.

This includes canned products from Smirnoff Ice, Jim Beam Bourbon & Cola, Gordons Gin Tonic or Bacardi Cuba Libre.

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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