Sustainability Check for Recycling of Beverage Packaging:

Reuse better than one-way containers with deposit better than curbside col-lection schemes (Green Dot systems)

Reusable packaging is not only environmentally but also from an economic and social perspective superior to one-way (single use) containers such as PET bottles, beverage cans and beverage cartons. Deposit systems – for reusable bottles as well as for one-way containers – are furthermore more sustainable than the collection of one-way containers in curbside collection schemes (also called Green Dot systems). This is one of the most important findings in the study “Reuse and Recycling Systems for Selected Beverage Packaging from a Sustainability Perspective” that the auditing and consulting organization PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has carried out for the German Environment Aid (Deutsche Umwelthilfe).

Refillable packaging enables more efficient resource use

Refillable bottles usually are more robust and weigh more than one-way beverage containers. However, due to their multiple uses, they generate considerable less packaging waste then one-way beverage packaging. An example: 46 kilograms of aluminum are necessary to fill 1,000 liter beer in supposedly light aluminum cans. In order to fill the same amount in beer in refillable glass bottles only 26 kilograms of glass are used – i.e. only about half of the resources!

Deposit schemes secure higher collection and recycling rates

The study concludes that deposit schemes particularly regarding collection rates, recycling rates and recycling quality stand head and shoulders above curbside collection schemes (Green Dot systems) for the collection of beverage packaging waste. Whereas in curbside collection systems only about half of the beverage PET bottles are collected, deposit systems for beverage containers reach as much as 99% collection – i.e. twice as much! In deposit systems 85-99% of the beverage containers are recycled. The recycling rates in curbside collection schemes are considerable lower. They typically correspond to less than a third of the beverage PET bottles and to around 40% of the beverage cartons put on the market.

Deposit systems go hand in hand with more and better recycling

Due to higher collection rates and higher material purity of the collected packaging materials deposit systems enables not only more but also better recycling of packaging waste than curbside collection schemes. Only beverage PET bottles from deposit system are used for high-quality bottle-to-bottle recycling.

Additionally, due to the high collection rates – between 80 and 99% –deposit systems as opposed to curbside collection schemes significantly contribute to reduce littering of beverage packaging waste.

Download the study free of charge

The study was written in German and has been fully translated into English.

Below you find one reading version and one printing version of the complete study for download (free of charge). The printing version allows you to print separate chapters individually.

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