Friday, December 19, 2014

Overcoming Pfund?

Pfund is this unusual word that you come across almost daily in Germany.  If you walk into a grocery or order up at a take-place, and you walk out with a can of Coke or a bottle of pay Pfund (a deposit) on the can/bottle.  It's generally twenty-five Euro cents and on up.  It's the same with beer or bottled water. Juice and milk are exceptions to the rule.

Pfund started in 2003.  The idea was carried over by the environmental crowd, and was supposed to decrease the tossed-can issue that Germans whined about.  The grocery and drink industry were pretty frustrated over this mess, but slowly adapted.  Most Germans would pat themselves over the back for the success that they've seen.

Today, because of the pressure that the industry put back on the government.....there's a requirement of all German drink-producers.....a symbol on the can or bottle to indicate it's a Pfund-item.

I bring all of this up because in the last month.....I've been at two food outlets here in Germany.....buying a soda can, and there's no Pfund involved.  I asked when I tried to return the can to the same stand or outlet, and they just smiled.  I looked at the symbol.  It's Austrian-produced.

Yeah, someone finally figured out the whole angle to the gimmick.  Just avoid buying German-produced sodas or beer.  The law only applies to German-produced items.

I might be just a local thing that someone dreamed up and has a couple of trucks of Austrian Coke driven up each month....but it's a good demonstration of free enterprise.

How many Germans hate the Pfund law?  I have no idea.  When it first started....I'd take a guess that half the public really didn't buy into this concept or appreciate the amount of pain that it involved.  You collect your cans or bottles now, and make a weekly trip to dispose of them at the corner grocery.  The grocery chains all bought into expensive machines to count and accept the cans/bottles.  There's a fair amount of money tied up into the end-product....empty cans/bottles.

Will they write more Pfund laws to outlaw non-German sodas?  Maybe.  But that's at least ten years away, I think.

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