A friend from Austria once asked me why I had a basket with empty
bottles and jars in my kitchen. She was also surprised when I brought that basket with
me to grocery shopping. On the way to the grocery store I explained my actions to her.
She was very surprized although it is a great and simple system.
In Germany we have a pledge-system. For most bottles and also some jars you have
to pay a pledge. That can be 15 to 25 cents. The pledge is not included on the price
labels, but there is often written "zuzügl. Pfand", what means that you have to pay a pledge.
It is also written on the bottles and jars. After using the bottles, you bring them back to
the store and put them into the "pfandautomat". This automat you will usually find near
the entrance. It scans the barcodes of the bottles and counts the pledges. When you push the
End-button it releases a receipt. You can either buy something from the receipt or change
it on the checkout into money. There are two different kinds of pledges. One is on
almost all bottles, exept liquor. It is called "Einwegpfand". You bring the bottle back and
it is then crushed by the automat and later disposed by the store. Only plastic bottles and
aluminium cans can have this kind of pledge. Bottles made of thicker and harder plastic or glas
jars and bottles have a different pledge. These containers are "Mehrwegpfand". You bring them
back and they are cleaned and used again. The store can reuse the containers between
20 and 100 times, depending on content and material of the container. You can bring most
bottles back to many different stores. Only if you buy something, what is special to one certain
store you probably have to bring it back to that one store.