Aldi Süd is testing the sale of mineral water and beer in returnable bottles at the regional subsidiaries in Bingen and Eschweiler. In each case, the favourite varieties of the respective region are offered.
“As if, discounters can’t do reusable bottles,” Thomas Fischer, head of waste policy and recycling management at Deutsche Umwelthilfe e. V. (German Environmental Aid) tweeted on February 12th. “Aldi is currently testing beer in returnable bottles.” In addition to the favourite beers of the region, Bitburger (0.33 liters) and Früh Kölsch (0.5 liters), Gerolsteiner Naturel mineral water in 1-liter refillable bottles has also been on offer in the ten branches of the Eschweiler area since the beginning of February. In its 40 branches, the regional company in Bingen offers mineral water by Hochwaldsprudel in 0.75-liter returnable bottles in addition to its most popular beer brands Bitburger (0.33 liters) and Krombacher (0.5 liters).
Canned beer and beer in plastic bottles as well as water in disposable PET, which in the case of the 1-liter bottle already consists of 80 percent recycled PET according to Aldi Süd, will continue to be available in the pilot locations. Customers can thus decide whether they want to buy returnable or one-way bottles.
Proposed legislation as motivation
An article in the LebensmittelZeitung dated February 14th mentions a new draft law of the Ministry of the Environment which provides for an increase of the reusable quota to 70 percent within the next few years as a possible reason for the initiative. As there is a threat of possible (as yet undetermined) sanctions in the event of non-compliance, discounters must already start thinking about how to integrate returnable bottles into their product range. However, the logistics will not be changed during the test phase. The reusable bottles can be returned at the checkout area and in the stores’ warehouses. The deposit amount is paid at the cash desk. “We would like to wait and see how our customers accept the offer of returnable bottles before we take further steps, such as changing our processes and reverse vending machines,” explains Nastaran Amirhaji, press officer at Aldi Süd.