Only around 42 percent of beverages were filled in reusable bottles in Germany in 2017, the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has said.
Compared to the previous year, the share of reusable packaging for beverages fell by 0.5 percentage points and was “significantly below” the government target of 70 percent.
“All supermarkets and beverage outlets should offer as many drinks as possible in returnable bottles, thus helping reduce waste,” said UBA President Maria Krautzberger.
According to the UBA, most beverages in Germany were sold in disposable plastic bottles, reaching a market share of 52 percent.
Since beverage packaging accounts for more than a quarter of all packaging waste in Germany, a higher proportion of reusable packaging for drinks would “significantly reduce overall packaging waste,” UBA noted.
“Not all retail companies offer returnable bottles. It is thus made unnecessarily difficult for consumers to protect the environment when shopping,” Krautzberger said.
Reusable glass bottles can be refilled 50 times, while some returnable plastic bottles can be reused up to 20 times only, the agency noted.
According to the UBA, reusable bottles sourced locally would perform best from an environmental point of view due to the associated low transport emissions. The use of such bottles would avoid unnecessary waste and thus save energy and raw materials.
Beer is an exception to the low share of reusable bottles in Germany, according to the UBA. The share of reusable beer bottles was high by comparison, but also decreased from 88 percent to 82 percent between 2010 and 2017.