Donate Your Deposit: Touchdown in Berlin

“Donate your deposit” is being ever more widely disseminated: in July 2017, the seventh German airport has meanwhile joined the project in the shape of Berlin-Tegel. Travelers taking off from Berlin-Tegel Airport can now likewise donate their deposit at the security check. With more than 20 million passengers a year, Berlin-Tegel is the biggest airport to participate so far.

Donate Your Deposit
The deposit collectors in Berlin-Tegel have hit the ground running: Susanne Pieske (left picture, 2nd from left) and Michael Evert (2nd from right) seen when the project was greenlighted.

“I am very gratified to note that the federal capital has now taken this brilliant project on board with its most important airport,” says Michael Wiener, CEO of Der Grüne Punkt. “’Donate your deposit’ is a sustainable project in the best sense of the term: instead of ending up in the waste bin, the bottles and cans collected are recycled. The project creates jobs, and opens up opportunities for the long-term unemployed. I am delighted that the substantial sums raised from deposits will in future benefit the Berliner Tafel food bank,” adds Michael Wiener.

Goldnetz gGmbH employs the currently eleven deposit collectors – they receive their pay from the Berlin Job Center. In Tegel alone, a total of 20 jobs are set to be created following the start-up phase. The airport, Der Grüne Punkt, Goldnetz and the Berliner Tafel food bank are also aiming to extend the project to Schönefeld Airport as a next step. Der Grüne Punkt has been supporting the “Donate your deposit” initiative ever since the autumn of 2013. This project, which is being implemented in conjunction with German airports and charitable organizations, has in recent years been taken on board by progressively more airports. The initiative’s declared goal is to use the deposit monies for charitable projects and to recycle non-returnable beverage packages that would otherwise be thrown away.

And the principle involved is quite simple. The problem is a familiar one: with beverage bottles and cans in your hand luggage, you can’t get past the security check. So frequently they end up in the waste bins, and will never be recycled. But meanwhile many large German airports have installed collection containers labeled “Donate your deposit”. So nowadays, if you want to dispose of your bottle just before the security check, you simply drop it in the container provided, which helps to support the project.

The deposit collectors – former long-term unemployed, who are being returned to the labor market by this project – empty the containers, sort the bottles into returnables and non-returnables, and pack them in special sacks. Der Grüne Punkt then picks up the sorted bottles and cans, collects the deposits and arranges for recycling. In this way, the initiative has already created a total of 24 jobs. More airports are now planning to introduce this project.