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Deposit system law - Germany

The DPG (Deutsche Pfandsystem GmbH) was established in 2005 by the retail industry, the beverage producer industry and the beverage container production industry to define and establish the organisational and judicial basis of implementing a nationwide deposit and return system for non-refillable beverage containers in Germany.  The German deposit and return system is organised very differently from the equivalent Scandinavian systems as no single enterprise has exclusive rights to collect and recycle used beverage containers. The DPG has defined a number of key roles and responsibilities in the operation of the system:

  • Producers, importers or private label beverage manufacturers such as Lidl, Aldi, etc. are referred to as “first distributors”.
  • The deposit account holder is the organisation which holds and manages the deposit account from the time when the beverage container is marketed until the used beverage container is returned and recycled. All first distributors are deposit account holders.
  • The deposit account service provider can assist the deposit account holder in the management of the deposit account, receipts and disbursements.
  • The refund claimant can claim a refund from the deposit account holder based on the counting, registration and shredding of returned beverage containers.
  • The refund claimant service provider can assist the deposit claimant in claiming the deposit from the deposit account holder.
  • The collector is an organisation that coordinates the collection of used beverage containers, such as a shop, a supermarket or an independent collection centre.
  • The collection centre is a facility where consumers can return used beverage containers and collect their refunds.
  • Label printers are companies authorised to print security labels according to DPG guidelines and specifications.
  • Can manufacturers are companies certified to manufacture and print on metal cans.
  • Manufacturers of Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) and high-speed counting machines are companies certified to produce machines for the counting and registration of used beverage containers. The machines generate the clearing data necessary for the deposit claimant to claim a refund from the deposit account holder.
  • Counting centres are centres authorised and certified to count and register used beverage containers and generate clearing data for third party collectors.

All of the above enterprises or organisations have to sign a contract with the DPG to be authorised to take part in the management of the German deposit and return system. The DPG is financed by the membership fees paid by all the above-mentioned organisations. As was the case in Denmark, the DPG decided at an early stage of the implementation process that an anti-fraud system would be necessary to prevent, or at least to minimise, fraud. The DPG selected a technology which had been in operation in Denmark for some years. The technology is based on a special printing technique which is used to print the DPG logo (the so-called security mark) on beverage containers and which cannot be copied by ordinary copying facilities. Every beverage container marketed in Germany must carry this security mark. It must be printed on the beverage label itself, directly on the beverage container (this applies to all metal containers) or on special labels only including bar code and the security mark. This is used by importers marketing foreign beverages which carry no security mark on the original label. 

By now, the following has become common practice in Germany:

Manual handling of beverage containers in shops and supermarkets. The consumer takes empty beverage containers to the supermarket and returns them to the cashier, who counts the containers and pays the corresponding refund to the consumer. A trained cashier can easily identify the kinds of containers for which the consumer is entitled to a refund. The cashier loads the containers into a plastic bag, which is forwarded to a central counting centre normally operated by an independent enterprise. The origins of the containers are identified, the containers are counted, registered and sorted by a high-speed counting machine and the total refund is paid to the supermarket which forwarded the containers (also called the “inter-clearing process”).

 

Automated handling of beverage containers in shops and supermarkets. The consumer takes the empty beverage containers to the supermarket and enters the containers one by one into a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) without a compactor. The RVM prints a refund slip, which the consumer takes to a cashier. The cashier pays the claimed refund to the customer as indicated on the refund slip. The containers are dropped into a bag by the RVM and are further processed as described above, including the inter-clearing process.

 

Automated handling of beverage containers in shops and supermarkets as described above but where the RVMs are equipped with compactors. When the containers are compacted (and destroyed), they cannot be re-entered into the RVM, and the inter-clearing process is dealt with on the basis of the data registered by the RVM. These three collection methods currently exist in Germany.   

  

Useful links:

Deutsche Pfandsystem GmbH

Clearing Solution GmbH

Interseroh AG

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