I remember the excitement as a little girl of carefully pushing one bottle after another into the big machines in the supermarkets. After the recognition of the barcode and an accepting beep sound, the machine would swallow the bottles. It seemed like a personal success when the apparatus pulled the bottle out of my tiny hand and a whirling sound declared its correct disposal. As a sign of appreciation, the machine then proceeds to spit out a voucher, mostly spend on sweets or crunched into the charity box for Unicef at the cashier.
The German ‘Pfandsystem’ (deposit system) is not only handled as a prestige example for many other countries, but has also helped clean up German streets. However, is its environmental purpose rather a fairytale?