Sales of refillables in Germany up due to new deposits

According to a report by the GfK market researchers in Nuremberg, deposits on single-use beverage containers have had a positive effect on sales of refillable alternatives. Sales of refillable containers for those beverages affected by the deposits have ended their downward trend and increased dramatically. This Note also covers planned changes to the deposit system.



The well-infomed environment team at the British Embassy in Belin cite a report, commissioned by the environmental association ‘Umwelthilfe’, which examines the effect of compulsory deposits introduced on 1.1.03 on single-use beverage containers. At 25-50 cent, they are considerably higher than the existing 8-15 cent deposits on reusable containers. Of the drinks affected by the deposits (including beer and carbonated drinks), every second single-use container sold in December 2002 has now been replaced by a refillable one.



Sales of carbonated drinks such as cola and lemonade in refillable containers have shown the largest increase. The market share has risen from 50.5% in the 4th quartile of 2002 to 75.8% in January 2003. This jump marks a change in a downward trend from 82.2% in the 4th quartile of 1998 to 60.3% in the 4th quartile of 2001. Sales of beer in refillable bottles have reacted similarly, falling from 86.5% in the 4th quartile of 1998 to a low of 74.7% in the 4th quartile of 2002. Sales then rose to 91% in January 2003 following the introduction of the deposits.



The refillable quota for all drinks – including those not covered by the new deposits – has risen from 52.2% in the 4th quartile of 2002 to 61% in January 2003. However, for non-deposit drinks such as fruit juices, the downward trend is continuing. The amount of fruit juice sold in refillable containers fell from 18.3% at the end of 2002 to 16.2% in January 2003.



Head of the Umwelthilfe, Jurgen Resch, said in a statement that the increase in refillables was largely due to retailers removing cans and single-use bottles from their shelves (to avoid having to levy the deposit). The Deutsche Bahn (German rail) has also announced that it will only sell drinks in refillable containers. As a result of the deposits, beverage wholesalers – who tend to sell refillables – and medium sized breweries – who also favour refillable bottles – are enjoying an increased turnover.



Conversely, the single-use sector is suffering from the new deposits. In a separate report, the leading German producer of single-use water bottles, Gehring-Bunte announced it would be reducing its employees’ hours. Likewise, the metal recycling company, aluminium Rheinfeldern, has announced job losses following the temporary closure of one of its plants.



An additional disadvantage of the deposit on single-use containers is that the cans and bottles have to be taken back to the point of sale. The Environment Ministry and industry are currently negotiating details of a central clearing point which will enable consumers to return their cans and single-use bottles to any retail outlet from 1 October.



Federal Environment Minister Jurgen Trittin and representatives of the Federal States agreed an initial outline of an amendment to the packaging ordinance, the legal basis for the deposits, in mid February. The new legislation will be based on the environmental credentials of the packaging rather than the contents and sales quotas. Trittin is hoping the bill will move swiftly through Parliament so that the new regulations can take effect in October with the clearing system.

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Ano da Publicação: 2003
Fonte: Warmer Bulletin #07-2003: March 2003
Autor: Kit Strange (Warmer Bulletin)
Email do Autor: kit@residua.com

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