Currently I'm looking into the issue of deposit return systems. Usually they are quite effective in keeping addressed items out of the environment, so I wonder why they are not expanded to many more products, such as food packaging in general.

Are there examples of countries (or regions/states) having implemented deposit return systems for products besides beverage containers?

I'm referring to cheap products typically consumed in large quantity (e.g. food packaging), not more valuable products that might have such a system implemented already (e.g. car tyres, electrical appliances).

  • In some countries milk is sold in bottles which can be returned for a deposit. In Germany at least this has been extended to a lot of liquid or sloppy edible substances: yogurt, sauce, beans, etc. Is this what you had in mind?
    – RedSonja
    Oct 11, 2022 at 12:33
  • For industrial packaging, such systems are quite widespread: for pallettes, barrels, ... (though they may be sold and sold on rather than having a deposit system) Here in Germany, the system for electrical and electronic devices is a mix: the producer is responsible for paying for the recycling, but since handing everything back to the producer is inefficient, electronic waste is collected locally/comunally and the manufacturers pay for containers according to their production volume. Since the possibility of leaving your electronic waste without paying a fee is sufficient to not have large... Nov 2, 2022 at 19:30
  • 2
    ... amounts polluting the landscape, why add deposit burocracy? Lead-acid (car) batteries have system close to deposit: you'll pay a deposit on a new one, and with that receipt can get the deposit back when handing in an old one, which will typically not be the same. Still other containers are often rented, so you hand the identical one back: gas bottles. Oh, and Christmas markets (or similar fairs) may have a deposit on their mugs. Nov 2, 2022 at 19:34

2 Answers 2



In Germany, I've seen so far the following products in returnable packaging:

  • yogurt
  • different types of nuts
  • rice
  • beans
  • tomato sauce

Note that all of the above are covered by 2 or 3 models of glass containers


After some more extensive search I have found these promising studies highlighting case studies from the implementation of deposit return systems for products commonly not addressed:

  • Song, G., Lee, Y., & Jung, E. C. (2020). Developing the ‘0U Cup’: Promoting Ecological Behavior through a Cup-sharing Service System Based on the Comprehensive Action Determination Model and Choice Architecture. Archives of Design Research, 33(3), 5-16.

  • Cottafava, D., Riccardo, L. E., & Cristian, D. A. (2019). From flow to stock. new circular business models for integrated systems: A case study on reusable plastic cups.

  • Thomke, S. H., & Sinha, M. (2010). The dabbawala system: On-time delivery, every time. Harvard Business School Case, 610-059.

This article was helpful as an overview, see especially bottom section: https://www.renewablematter.eu/articles/article/making-empties-count-deposit-return-schemes-across-the-world

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