Thursday, 17 April 2008

Green bottles

Germany has a deposit system for many of its glass and plastic bottles and cans. The deposit is called 'Pfand'. If you take a qualifying bottle or can to the supermarket you can feed it into a machine (delightfully named the 'Pfandflasche Rücknahmeautomaten') that reads the barcode and gives you a voucher back, which you can put towards your shopping.

The system is very popular. In supermarkets you will normally see a queue of people waiting to post their bottles into the Pfandflasche Rücknahmeautomaten (just wanted to use that name again).

More pitifully, in the evenings you can often see homeless people walking around with shopping trolleys full of empties that they have collected, in order to get money off groceries. Also, on refuse collection day you can see others going through bins to find any bottles that they can hand in. This latter situation is quite unnerving if it is your bin, especially if you have a paranoia about identity theft (I saw someone doing this to the communal bins of our block of flats today).

The system is a fantastic way to encourage recycling and to keep litter off the streets. There was a similar system for lemonade bottles in place in England in the 1970s as I can remember taking bottles back to the corner shop to collect the deposit when I was very small. It's a shame that nothing like it is in operation in England today.


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Loriba said...

Do I detect a copy and paste in this post? :-)

I remember taking bottles back to the shop and getting five or ten pence to spend on sweets too.

They do occasionally talk about bringing the system back, but nothing has appeared yet, unfortunately.