Now buying or selling beverages is becoming more complex. This is ensured by a new deposit system that Climate Minister Leonor Gewesler (Greens) came up with. He issued the related rules on Monday. To act accordingly, the “EWP Recycling Pfand Österreich GmbH” was to be established as a central office.
From January 2025 we will have to pay 25 cents as deposit for plastic bottles and aluminum cans. This results in additional costs when making purchases. Anyone who returns empty bottles and cans later will also get their deposit back. There are considerable demands on supermarkets and snack bars: wherever drinks are sold, bottles and cans must be returned. The sausage stand must also pay a deposit.
Anyone who has 10,000 cans and bottles at home will receive 2,500 euros for them. Because this is so high for small businesses, the regulation makes an exception for them. Food stalls must only accept the normal selling quantity of bottles and beverages or only those products they have previously sold. In contrast, those delivering the bottles will have to prove that they have also purchased the products from them. All this is not so easy.
Gewessler only wants to make sure of one thing: that the packaging is recycled and that it does not decompose in nature. The deposit system applies to all disposable beverage bottles and aluminum cans from 0.1 to three litres. Milk and milk-based beverages are excluded for hygiene reasons. Beverage cartons are also – for the time being – not part of the deposit system.
From January 1, 2025, products that are included in the deposit system will be marked with the corresponding symbol. EWP Recycling Pfand Austria aims to provide logistics and infrastructure for the return and processing of plastic bottles and cans. A separate IT system has to be set up and a logistics concept has to be developed. The owner of the processing center is the sponsoring consortium “Einwegpfand”, consisting of major beverage producers and trading partners.
All this means a lot of preparation. The cost to the industry is several hundred million euros. “We are in the process of converting branches, installing return machines and optimizing all systems,” said Robert Naegele, board member of the Einwegpfand sponsor association and returners of Billa AG. Philipp Bodzenta, board member of the sponsoring association and head of public affairs at Coca-Cola Austria, said the unilateral deposit system is “the biggest change since World War II”.
FPÖ’s environmental spokesman Walter Rauch speaks of “the mockery of consumers”. “Güssler ignored social aspects for ideological reasons,” says the National Council member, referring to the already existing inflation. “We libertarians have always called for the introduction of revenue-neutral plastic deposits for consumers.”
The Freedom Party’s alternative model would have been implemented on a voluntary basis. Additionally, it would have been based on reusable beer bottles costing nine cents. “The 0.25 euro deposit means relevant additional spending at the time of purchase, as the amount is added to it – this is another driver of inflation from this black-green government. “Goods that meet basic needs – especially water – should not be subject to freezing,” Rauch demanded.
Furthermore, according to the FPO, citizens should be rewarded in a direct deposit system “in which the deposit return exceeds the deposit amount utilized.” However, the Green Environment Minister with its deposit system remains a major threat to social prosperity in Austria.