Myths about returning empty bootles

I was not in a good mood the other day. IT was Saturday, the town was full of people, the shops did not have in stock the items I wanted, and the machine that takes back your empty bootles refused to accept some of those bottles my children had inserted. After waiting in line for what seemed to be like more than ten minutes, and after spending almost a hundred euros on food, I asked the cashier to take the two empty bottles that the shop’s machine had refused to accept. She declined.

„We cannot accept bottles here, you have to use the machine.“

„I tried the machine.  Twice.“

„Then I am sorry, but we cannot accept bottles. Besides, one of your bottles bears a label that we do not sell here. We would not accept that bottle anyway.“

„Both bottles have the same logo of the same deposit system. I do not believe that you can refuse to accept it.“

„You have to use the machine.“

I wondered whether I should try to explain our society’s pattern of organised nonresponsibility to my children. Instead, I looked up the regulations on my smartphone.

Since May 2006, i.e. for almost nine years, companies that sell bottled beverages in Germany have had to take back packaging of the same material regardless of place of purchase and regardless of type of beverage. And: if the machine does not accept a bottle (that it should have accepted), the shop is required by law to manually handle the bottle.

Giving it one last try, I walked to the machine, inserted the bottles, hoping to start a conversation with the store’s manager. The two bottles got accepted. Finally.

About Author: Hanno Langweg

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