Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons, user:Mattes

How it works and why

When the container is returned to an authorised redemption centre, or to the original seller in some jurisdictions, the deposit is partly or fully refunded to the redeemer (presumed to be the original purchaser). It is a deposit-refund system.

Governments may pass container deposit legislation for several reasons:

  • to encourage recycling and complement existing roadside recycling programs, to reduce energy and material usage for containers;
  • to specifically reduce beverage container litter along highways, in lakes and rivers, and on other public or private properties (where beverage container litter occurs, a nominal deposit provides an economic incentive to clean it up; this is in fact a significant source of income to some poor individuals and non-profit civic organisations);
  • to discourage the purchase of the products by raising their initial price;
  • to extend the usable lifetime of taxpayer-supported community or regional landfills; and
  • not to depend on commercial entities for recycling. The commercial interests can oppose the recycling for various reasons, although they may have an incentive to reduce the packaging cost, and voluntarily, e.g. by competition, introduce a refund for recycled containers. And the refund policy may be less than just, e.g. no refund without new purchase.

Where does CDL exist?

Several European countries, from Estonia to the Scandanavian states, have introduced CDL into their laws in some shape or form; systems differ from country to country.

In Germany, for example, container deposit legislation, known as Pfand or Einwegpfand (single-use deposit), helped to establish in 2005, aided by the retail industry, the beverage producer industry and the beverage container production industry, the organisational and judicial basis of implementing a nationwide deposit and return system for non-refillable beverage containers in Germany. The German deposit and return system is organised very differently from the equivalent Scandinavian systems as no single enterprise has exclusive rights to collect and recycle used beverage containers.

As of 2010, the standard deposit for all single-use containers (cans, single-use glass and plastic bottles) is € 0.25.

In Norway, there has been a law for refillable containers since 1902. Today, the system is operated by Norsk Resirk AS, which was established in 1999. The company was also granted the exclusive right to manage the deposit/refund system for empty non-refillable containers after the system was approved by the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority.

The Norwegian deposit/refund system is almost identical in operation to its Danish equivalent except that it is not mandatory for producers and importers to sign up with Norsk Resirk AS if they want to market products in non-refillable beverage containers in Norway. However, if they do not sign up, they will not be entitled to a reduction in the environmental fee which has to be paid for each and every beverage container sold in Norway.

Producers or importers who have not signed up with Norsk Resirk AS will pay a fixed fee of NOK 0.97 (EUR 0.08) plus an environmental fee of NOK 4.74 (EUR 0.39) per can and NOK 2.85 (EUR 0.23) per plastic bottle.

Article sources:

Links and other sources

  • CDL Denmark
  • For further info. on CDL systems in other European countries, go here.
  • ‘Recycle and Reward’ trials are starting across Scotland, headed by Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish government and other partners.