Germany extends deadline for PET bottles to become part of mandatory deposit system

GERMANY – The Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, has approved changes to the German Packaging Law, extending the period before PET juice bottles are required to become part of the mandatory deposit system.

The mandatory deposit system requires that sellers charge a deposit for every drink that is packaged in non-refillable packaging. Buyers would then get refunded once they return their packaging to the point of purchase where it will be processed for recycling.

Formulators of the system argued that it would be good for the environment as yields a higher quota of returns and a high recycling rate  which eventually has a positive impact on the ecobalance of beverage packaging.

The system was first introduced in 2003 when the national market share of refillable drinks packaging fell below 72%.

It included exclusively non-refillable drinks packaging for packed mineral water, beer, mixed drinks containing beer and carbonated soft drinks.

Non-carbonated drinks and juices were not affected. Milk and milk-based drinks, spirits, drinks for specific dietary purposes, wine and sparkling wine were also exempt from the deposit.

With the new changes to the German Packaging law,  the scope of the mandatory deposit system will be extended to all beverage bottles made of disposable plastic and to beverage cans.

This means that the extension of the mandatory deposit to include PET juice bottles will ultimately come into force as of January 2022.

Moving forward, Germany is also expected to continue applying stricter regulations on recyclability and the amount of recyclate in PET bottles.

For instance, new plastic bottles will no longer be made using petroleum, but increasingly from old recycled plastic, the ministry of Environment noted.

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Disposable PET (polyethylene terephthalate) beverage bottles would also have to be made of at least 25 percent recycled plastic from 2025.

As the German packaging laws become more stringent in an effort to save the environment, juice and other beverage manufacturers will need to adopt more innovative packaging solutions for their products.

One environmentally-friendly alternative  to standard PET bottles that are hard to recycle is to use PET bottles with an oxygen barrier made of chemically pure glass.

The wafer-thin coating on the inside of the PET bottle not only effectively protects the juice from oxygen pickup but is also fully recyclable.

During the standard recycling process the coating is hydrolyzed using hot caustic and thus removed from the inside bottle wall. It then goes into solution and the pure PET can be collected by type.

“Producing designs suitable for recycling, especially as regards single-use PET bottles, is now even more important following the decision made by the German government,” says Philipp Langhammer, product manager for barrier technology at KHS.

KHS has committed itself to helping manufacturers use more recycle friendly packaging materials for their products. The company has FreshSafe PET glass coating technology that coats PET bottles with a thin film of pure glass which can be easily separated from the bottles during the recycling process.

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