Home Living in Germany Household Guide to recycling bottles in Germany
Last update on August 17, 2019

Even little tasks can seem difficult when you’ve just moved abroad and not used to doing things a certain way. Germany’s bottle recycling system is one such thing.

When you are a solo expat trying to navigate life in Germany by yourself, even the simplest tasks seem overwhelming and difficult – especially when they are nothing like what you do ‘back home’. Recycling bottles was one of these scary tasks for me when I first moved here. Therefore, I thought I would write a step-by-step guide for any new solo expats to take the fear out of recycling your bottles for the first time.

1. When you are about to head out to the supermarket to do your weekly shopping, gather up all the empty plastic and glass bottles and soft drink cans you have collected throughout the week for recycling. It doesn’t matter where in Germany you have brought your bottle or can, they can all be recycled at your local supermarket.

2. Look for the odd looking machine below. You will most likely find it near the entrance to the supermarket, although some places have them inside the actual supermarket.

step by step guide to recycling your bottles in Germany

3. Put your bottles and cans into the round hole at the top, bottom first. For a faster bottle recycling experience, make sure the barcode is facing upwards.

4. Put in all your bottles, one after the other, until your bag is empty and then press the green button next to the other circular hole. This will print your receipt.

Guide to recycling your bottles in Germany5. Keep your receipt! The amount at the bottom is the cash you get back from recycling your bottles. This is based on the Pfand (deposit) you paid when you bought your bottles. Most 500mL bottles of soft drink carry a 15c deposit, whilst the 1.5L ones carry a 25c deposit.

6. When going through the checkout to purchase your groceries, hand this receipt to the cashier and you will get the amount of the receipt deducted from your bill. If you don’t have anything to buy, you can just hand your receipt to the cashier and get the money back.

Recycling bottles in Germany is quite an unique process, but hopefully the above guide will take all the fear and uncertainty out of your first recycling experience and you’ll be able to to do it as if you have been recycling bottles this way for years.