Recycling and giving

How “Pfandgeben” combines two awesome ideas

What do most Germans have in common? The answer is a balcony, a cellar or a larder full of empty bottles. As you get a refund on these bottles that varies from 8 to 50 cent (for plastic bottles and cans it’s 25 cents) most people tend to accumulate quite a lot of them before they get rid of them eventually. So just like every other German I usually go to the supermarket once or twice a month to get my two or three euros worth of refund (Mind you, I might not be the biggest consumer of bottled drinks, so don’t take this amount as the average).

my collection of empty bottles

my collection of empty bottles

This money is something I never really calculate with, it’s something I feel like I wouldn’t necessary need to survive, I just want to get rid of them and recycle them properly. Yet there are a lot of poor people who dig through rubbish bins and search the streets for bottles. So this is where the idea of “Pfandgeben” (loosely translated: “giving refund”) starts.

The initiative brings people who want to get rid of their bottles and “bottle collectors” together in an extremely uncomplicated way. On their website you can just choose your location and you immediately get the phone numbers of bottle collectors in your area. You can then call them up or text them and agree on a place for the empty bottles to be picked up. And you can even rate your experience. That’s all you’ve got to do. You get to recycle your bottles and other people get a bit of the money you don’t really need. Easy.

I haven’t tried “Pfandgeben” yet, I just discovered it and couldn’t wait to share this with you. So far I can only say that I’m amazed by the idea. I will definitely give it a try and tell you about my experience. So save your bottles and spread the idea!


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