I’ve discovered you never truly “buy” a bottle of beer in Germany. You buy the liquid inside the bottle…
Does the US even offer Coke in a glass bottle anymore? Other than those crazy-overpriced tiny “collector” bottles?
Yes, I was a little confused at first too.
Anyway…In the US, you buy a glass bottle of soda. You drink the soda. You (hopefully) throw the bottle into a glass recycling bins. Done!
In Germany, if you follow those rules, you’d be throwing your money away… Germany has a bottle deposit system in place. You buy a glass bottle of soda, you drink the soda, then you return the bottle to the store on your next trip for a nice little sum off your final grocery bill. The bottles are then returned the beverage manufacturer, sterilized, and re-filled.
Most of the grocery stores I’ve seen have a very high-tech machine near the entrance where you place the bottles. The machine spins the bottle to read the UPC and then credits you a specific amount based on the make/brand/size of the glass bottle. Once you’ve returned all your bottles, the machine spits out a receipt with the total. You take that receipt to the cashier when you check out- and the amount is subtracted from your final bill- like an instant rebate or coupon.
We get back two to three euros each time we go the German grocery store (about once a month).
Still confused? I found a video on YouTube. (Nope, the woman is not me- I was going to film something similar, but kept forgetting the digital video camera.)
Which is why, on the night we go grocery shopping, we tend to have a milk crate of bottles sitting in the back of the car from the prior few weeks. The glass clanking as we go over speed bumps is worth every (Euro) cent.