A study just released by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG WPG in Germany assesses the existing systems for collecting and recycling beverage containers in Germany from a social, economic, and ecological viewpoint. It shows that for beverage containers, deposit-return systems are preferable to green-dot systems (industry-financed curbside collection) in that deposit-return systems acheive higher collection rates, create more jobs, and are at least cost-neutral, if not more cost efficient.
The following are excerpted from the Aggregation of Selected, Significant Findings:
- While earlier analyses arrived at the finding that the deposit system gives rise to higher costs, current data indicates that, taking costs and revenues into account, developments are tending to favour mandatory deposit systems and that participation ina deposit system can be less costly than participation in a green dot system. If the return and recycling rates are included in the assessment, a mandatory deposit system can be viewed as being more efficient;
- In green dot systems, collection rates (after residues have been extracted) amount to between 43 and 54% for PET single use bottles, 53% for drinks cartons, and 76 to 82% for glass bottles. …the mandatory deposit system shows collection rates of 96 to 99%; and
- Mandatory deposit systems and green dot systems for single-use beverage containers are aimed in part at different segments. Green dot systems are primarily targeted at household use. However, a significant proportion of beverage packaging, in particular, is used outside the home. Green dot systems usually cover this packaging only to a limited extent, wheras the deposit system also covers consumption outside the home due to the financial incentive provided. Consequently, the two systems supplement one another and can co-exist very well.
Additionally, the report outlines the benefits of refillable beverage packaging over single use beverage packaging:
- Refillable beverage packaging causes significantly less waste than single use beverage packaging;
- After having been established, reuse systems usually show return rates of almost 100%;and
- From an economical viewpoint, the investment expense associated with refillable beverage packaging increases for beverage manufacturers due to the neccessary investments in washing facilities, pool bottles and logistics structures. On the other hand, however, through the acquisition of reuseable beverage containers (which avoids the need to purchase bottles for each filling), beverage manufacturer can benefit from significant operating cost savings, which can more than compensate for the higher investment costs.
View the Exectutive Summary (36 pages) and the Aggregation of Significant, Selected Findings (6 pages) here