More Pfand & Reusable alternatives: Germany combats waste with new laws

More Pfand & Reusable alternatives: Germany combats waste with new laws

Coffee-to-go is becoming more sustainable: in future, all businesses in Germany will be obliged to offer their customers reusable takeaway alternatives to disposable packaging, according to a new law passed by the Bundestag. The Pfand (deposit) scheme is also being extended. 

Businesses must offer customers sustainable to-go alternatives

To avoid unnecessary packaging waste, restaurants, snack bars and cafes will have to offer their customers a reusable alternative to disposable packaging for to-go food and drinks. A corresponding regulation, which will apply from 2023, was adopted by the Bundestag on Thursday. 

Exceptions will apply to smaller catering establishments that are a maximum of 80 square metres and have no more than five employees.

At the same time, MPs extended the deposit (Pfand) requirement to all single-use plastic bottles and beverage cans. At the moment, there are still drinks - such as non-carbonated fruit juices - whose packaging is not subject to Pfand. Such exceptions will no longer apply from 2022; a transition period will apply until 2024 for milk and milk products. 

In addition, a mandatory minimum proportion of recycled plastic is also being introduced for the production of PET bottles. 

Germany wants to curb “flood of packaging”

All of these measures are designed to reduce packaging waste in Germany. “With more reusable packaging, we will effectively curb the flood of packaging, especially in the to-go sector,” said Environment Minister Svenja Schulze. 

For environmentalists, however, the new regulations do not go far enough. Above all, the exceptions to the reusable alternative obligation have come in for heavy criticism. On the other hand, the German Hotel and Restaurant Association says the new law puts an extra financial burden on an industry already struggling to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. They are calling for at least a longer transition period. 

German city cleaners have responded positively to the new legislation, saying it provides important impetus for a more sustainable handling of packaging waste. According to the Association of Municipal Companies, cleaning companies in particular are suffering from the boom in to-go food and drinks. The removal of waste from public spaces costs in the region of 700 million euros per year. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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