Status: 26/09/2023, 05:32 a.m.
By: Felina Wellner
What is routine in this country is still in its infancy in Austria. The introduction of an environmentally friendly deposit system requires a lot of organizational work.
Vienna – At a federal press conference on the morning of 25 September, Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler laid down the details of the introduction of a one-way deposit for cans and plastic bottles in Austria. According to the environmental protection organization Global2000, about 1.6 billion plastic bottles and 800 million cans are in circulation in Germany every year. Huge amounts of waste are still produced – but an end is probably in sight.
Austria is approaching the German pawn system. (Symbolic image) © IMAGO/Gottfried Czepluch
According to the Waste Management Act: These deposit changes are coming in Austria
Austria is not starting completely from scratch: glass and PET bottles for beer and mineral water are already being recycled. For 2025, the current version of the Austrian Waste Management Act sets a major novelty: "In order to achieve the collection and recycling targets, primary obligated parties are obliged to collect a deposit for disposable beverage packaging made of plastic or metal from 1 [January] 2025." The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), among others, reports on the framework conditions defined during the press conference:
- 25 cents deposit for all bottles and cans between 0.1 and 3 liters; Exceptions: milk and milkshake drinks
- Uniform deposit symbol for bottles and cans
- Producers and importers obliged to implement
- Return possible at all beverage points of sale; Special scheme for small shops without vending machines
According to the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, the deposit system is organised and operated by the central office "EWP Recycling Pfand Österreich gGmbH". The owner is the "Trägerverein Einwegpfand". Associated contact persons were present at the announcement of the design.
With the published details, an essential basis for the introduction has been created. But the managing director of Recycling Pfand Österreich, Simon Parth, emphasizes at the conference: "It is important to develop an efficient and practicable logistics concept so that the more than two billion bottles and cans per year can be efficiently sorted in the long term and the material can be returned to the cycle in high quality."
Austria is following suit: These are Europe's deposit systems at a glance
Germany is considered a leader when it comes to deposit and return systems for single-use bottles – from 2024, the one-way deposit is also to be introduced for milk-containing beverages. Scandinavia, among others, is similarly progressive – with an introduction in the 80s, Iceland and Sweden are considered deposit pioneers.
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But not only in Austria, but also in other European countries such as Great Britain, France and Spain, plastic bottles still end up in the yellow bag. But the step taken by our south-eastern neighbour could also be followed by other EU countries in the future, as the EU is currently working on a regulation that is binding on all member states.