If you go to a supermarket, Kiosk (in Düsseldorf so called „Büdchen“) gas station, backery or any other shop to buy beverage you might face the German „Pfand“ system (station money). What is this typical German “Dosenpfand” – what is “Einwegflasche” and “Mehrwegflasche” and why am I not allowed to throw bottles on a sunday into a glass container? A short guide for all expats who wasted their station money by throwing away their collectable bottles in the past.

Over the last years many of my international friends and guests in my AirBnB apartments did not know about this typical German system of Einweg- und Mehrwegpfand – and they trew their bottles and cans into the bin / glass containers – and wasted a lot of Euros of “Flaschen-” and “Dosenpfand”.

The entire Pfand System in Germany has a volume of  16-18 Billion Euro – 5% of all bottles are thrown away by mistake – this causes an annually loss of 850.000.000 Euro – around 10,27 Euro per Person living in Germany.

But don’t worry – even 42% of the Germans can’t explain and differenciate between onetime used bottles and returnable bottles for multiple use.

Let me explain you how this system works.

First at all we differenciate between returnable bottles for multiple use (so called „Mehrwegflaschen“) – like beer bottles and returnable single use bottles (so called „Einwegflaschen“) and cans.

Mehrwegflaschen out of glass can be used up to 50 times.

Then we differenciate between bottles with and without station money.

Now coming to the question – which bottle has station money and which not is quite easy – and typical German – has some exeptions.

Easy rule ist – It is all depending on the content of the bottle. Euro

Volume of station money in Germany per year

850.000.000 Euro

station money thrown away every year in Germany

11.320 Euro

thrown away while reading this article.

10,27 Euro

thrown away per Person and year in Germany.


beer bottles to collect to become Millionaire.


Whatever is „beer“, alcohol free beer, mixed or beer-related, no matter if can, glass bottle or plastic bottle (are there really people drinking beer out of a plastic bottle – I can’t believe that) has a station money.

Plastic bottles and cans have like 25 Cent and glass bottles (no matter if 0,33l or 0,5l) have 8 Cent.

Exeption – take care: bottles with Bügelverschluss

have a 15 Cent station money – but some local beers have different amounts. You really should take care by returning them, sometimes the machines do not recognize this.

  • Beer
  • Füchschen Alt
  • Schlüssel Alt
  • Uerige Alt
  • Schumacher Alt
  • Bottle
  • 0,5L Bügelverschluss
  • 0,5L Bügelverschluss
  • 0,5L Bügelverschluss
  • 1,0 L Bügelverschluss
  • Station Money
  • 50 Cent
  • 50 Cent
  • 50 Cent
  • 60 Cent

Water, Softdrinks, Juices

Whatever is water (sparkling, non sparkling) has station money.

Softdrinks with bubbles (carbonic acid) also juices in glas bottles have station money – in plastic bottles the same juice has no station money.

Glas and hard plastic (usually multiple use) has 15 cent, whatever is single use (light plastic bottles) has 25 Cent.

Glas bottles from „Schweppes“ have 10 cent station money.

Wine, Spirits & Others

Whatever is wine, sparkling wine, champaign or spirit has no station money – these bottles to be taken to glass containers, sorted by colours and definately not to be thrown in on a Sunday or late evening.

Whatever is wine, or spirit has no station money – these bottles to be taken to glass containers, sorted by colours and definately not to be thrown in on a Sunday or late evening.

There is only one exeption – some small wineries have a 2 or 3 cent station money on 1L bottles.

Glases for Milk, Joghurt Cream or Applewine also have 15 Cent station money.

And whatever is sold in a 3L Plus bottle has also no station money. Same is for bottles and cans you bought in other countries – you can’t claim them in Germany.

And take care – there is also a station money on the crates.

If this is confusing you – don’t throw them away – place them in public places on the top of a bin box – they will be collected. There are many so called „Flaschensammler“ – some of them even became Millionaire. It just takes you the time to collect between 4.000.000 and 12.500.000 bottles, based on what you are specialized in.

And of couse – this is a tax free income.

Where to return the bottles and cans?

Easiest way is return them where you bought them, but no issue any store plus 200m² hast he duty to take any bottle or can if they also sell same material.

Why did I write this article ?

First at all, to support you to save some money. Second is thinking to the future – you see many people in the town, near the stadium collection empty bottles – it is their way to increase there pension or income.

To protect your lifestyle in the future the time and the right moment is now – to plan and setup a financial strategy for that.

If you want more infos about that, attend one of our financial sessions for expats or contact me directly.

And if you have your Pfand story or experience – feel free to share it with me…