Status: 10.12.2023, 11:35 a.m.
By: Karolin Schäfer, Marcus Giebel
For many disposable bottles or cans, a deposit must already be paid. With the turn of the year, a new change is coming up, which not everyone likes.
Kassel – Whether bottles or cans made of PET, glass or metal: In Germany, a deposit is charged on many beverage packaging. This means that consumers pay the premium at the time of purchase in addition to the purchase price and get it back later when they return it. This is intended to ensure material cycles. But soon there will be a new regulation in the deposit system, which will be one of the changes in the new year 2024.
New deposit rule from January 2024: What consumers need to know
The EU wants to revolutionize the deposit system, which could mean the end of beer crates. As early as January 2024, according to the Packaging Act (VerpackG), further milk beverages will be integrated, for which a deposit of 25 cents will then be due. According to Deutsche Pfandsystem GmbH, this includes milk and mixed milk products with a milk content of at least 50 percent. In addition, other drinkable dairy products such as yoghurt and kefir are also affected by the new regulation – as long as they are offered in a single-use plastic bottle of more than 0.1 litres and less than three litres.
For certain dairy products, a deposit will be charged from the turn of the year. (Symbolic image) © Bernd Feil/imago
However, experts are not particularly convinced about this innovation in the deposit system. "Due to the relatively high viscosity of these high-fat products, considerable quantities of food residues can remain in the packaging after opening and emptying the packaging, which is a very good breeding ground for microorganisms," warned the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) when the deposit obligation was introduced in 2003.
"Unhygienic impairment": residues of milk drinks can smell unpleasant
The microorganisms produced in the bottles could "very quickly also lead to a detrimental influence on all other foods stored in a sales establishment," it said. According to the BfR, there would be "a risk of unhygienic impairment" in supermarkets or discounters.
The residues of the bottles of viscous dairy products can therefore quickly develop unpleasant odours. Some return systems already don't smell particularly appetizing. In addition, uncleaned packaging with residues of milk, dairy products or fruit juices would attract animal pests. As the Berliner Morgenpost quoted the BfR, however, a risk to health is unlikely as long as supermarkets and discounters clean the machines regularly.
New deposit rule causes resentment: "Plastic bottles for milk do not belong in reverse vending machines"
Due to possible residues in the containers, Antje Gerstein, Managing Director of the German Retail Association, sees a higher risk of contamination, she told the editorial network Germany. Markets where the deposit machines are located in the entrance area are particularly affected.
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"Plastic bottles for milk belong in the yellow bag and not in the reverse vending machine," the chief executive of the dairy industry association, Eckhard Heuser, emphasized years ago to the Lebensmittel Zeitung. Empty milk bottles are a "hygiene problem", especially in summer. As of this year, restaurants, bistros and cafés are obliged to offer to-go products in reusable packaging.