In the beverage department of your grocery store, you will probably be confronted with the deposit on beverage containers on the very first day of your arrival in Germany.

Every purchase includes a drink or two. 40% of the beverages offered in German stores are in reusable containers on which a deposit must be paid. However, this does not mean that a deposit only has to be paid on 40% of the beverages offered in German supermarkets.

Since 2006, a deposit of €0.25 per bottle has had to be paid on most disposable bottles here.

The rules of which beverage in which packaging has to be deposited and how are very complicated. Therefore, here is only a rough classification.

On which beverages / beverage packaging do I have to pay a deposit in Germany?

If you look a little closer, you will of course find the exact deposit amount on the respective label of the beverage.

You will have to pay a deposit on most beverage cans and plastic bottles. In this country, beer is available in cans, plastic bottles and, of course, glass bottles – all of which require a deposit. Furthermore, mineral water, lemonade, cola, spritzers in disposable plastic bottles are subject to a deposit of 0.25€ each. You can recognize these very easily by the “DPG logo”, which I show below.

Einwegpfand DPG-Symbol

Beer in standard NRW bottle 0.5l

Es ist neben der “Longneck-Flasche” die meistverwendete Bierflasche in Deutschen Landen seit den 1980er Jahren. Eingeführt wurde sie in Nordrhein-Westfalen(NRW) und breitete sich dann rasch bundesweit aus. Sie ist ca. 26cm hoch, wiegt 365g und beherbergt genau einen halben Liter Bier. Diese Flaschen haben einen Pfand von 0,08€.

The following table gives you a better overview than the text form.

Disposable bottles(plastic, can)Returnable bottles(glass, CocaCola plastic)
Mineral water, lemonade, cola0,25€0,15€
Beer crate, water crate1,50€1,50€
Milk, mixed milk drinks
Wine, sparkling wine, liquor
Coffee to go**
*from 2022 each 0,25€; **production will be forbidden Eu-wide from 07/2021; of course there are also occasional special forms like the swing top bottle at 0,15€.

Which beverage containers are exempt from the deposit in Germany?

Zu den pfandfreien Getränken gehören Milch- und Milchmischgetränke und Tetrapacks. Aktuell in 2021 findest du noch pfandfreien Saft in Plastikflaschen und selten in Dosen. Ab 2022 jedoch wird jede Plastikflasche und Getränkedose mit Pfand versehen.

Always check your bottle to see if it is a deposit bottle before disposing of it!

In Germany, almost 200 million euros in deposits are no longer paid out every year, which means that the bottles that are not returned end up in the trash or collect in the

Where can I now return my empties in Germany?

Here first of all the basic rule: Delivery only in household quantities. The term is imprecise but with 2 full bags you get in any case no problems!

Stores with a sales area of more than 200 square meters must take back non-refillable empties by material and refillable empties by shape. This means that anyone who sells one-way plastic bottles must also take back all one-way plastic bottles, regardless of the brand! The same applies to returnable beer bottles, but here it is not the material but the shape that is relevant. There are two main differences here, the NRW and longneck beer bottle at €0.08 each and the swing-top bottle at €0.15 each. If you don’t sell any swing-top bottles, you don’t have to take any back. If you sell swing-top bottles, you have to accept any swing-top bottle, no matter what brand. Of course, the same applies to NRW and Longneck.

Small stores such as kiosks, snack bars and gas stations are exempt from this regulation and only have to take back the stamps they also sell.

😉My Tip:

If you are unsure as a foreigner, and do not want to carry your empties 3 times through the city, then always look for a supermarket like Rewe, Edeka or Netto-Markendiscount (hybrid of discounter and supermarket). In discounters such as Aldi, you will not get rid of the standard beer bottle at 0.08 € or the reusable standard fountain bottle (mineral water)!