Facts about Germany: Pfandsammler


Ladies and Gentlemen, meine Damen und Herren: Introducing an all new video game, which you can download and play on your laptops and apps. It is a game which you can play with as many participants as possible. The object is to collect as many bottles as possible before getting caught by the police or security guards. The point values are based on the number of bottles collected as well as the size and value per bottle. Player with the most number of points wins the contest.

It’s better than any Pac-Man game you will ever see.


It’s Pfandsammler!  😀


The beauty of this game is you can play it anytime, anywhere! You can even watch the professionals do it- from students wanting to make an extra Buck by walking the grounds of the park, to a group of unemployed people working for a collection agency asking students for their empty bottles, to even the sportiest business person rummaging through garbage cans while running on the platforms of train stations. You can even adjust your settings based on the city of choice- from Hamburg to Lahr; Frankfurt to Ulm; Jena to Buxtehude. Each city has its own obstacles to overcome to get the best bottles without dealing with your enemies, which include police officers, security guards, janitors, paranoid citizens, or you can create your own custom-made enemy.

The game is free and you can get off any street in a German community. Just ask your nearest bottle collector where to get this unique game. Open to all ages! 🙂


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Bottle-collecting is something a non-native of German will not see on the streets of Germany. Even Americans would frown upon the logic of a person asking you for your bottle once you drink up the last drop of Club Mate cola (the one seen in the picture above). After all, they do take pride in having their bottles and aluminum cans recycled at the nearest recycling center or grocery store for the price of 5-15 cents per recycled item, pending on which state you redeem them. At some centers where cans are taken, a person could come away with an average of 25 cents a can, thus receiving a bundle of money when giving them 10 bags full of crushed cans! As a child growing up in Minnesota, my father and I would do just that, only to splurge what we received for the cans on ice cream cones, a can of Coke each and Polish sausages! Those were the days. 🙂

Yet as a German, or (in my case) as a long surviving American expatriate who can never get enough German culture, bottle collecting in Germany is considered the norm. While Germany does not have as many aluminum cans in mass amounts as in the United States, most of our beverages we see can be found in plastic or glass bottles. Yet while one can get away with a 25 cent can of Red Bull, when redeemed through the beverage collector machine at a grocery store, the prices of the bottles vary on material and brand. That means as far as glass bottles are concerned, a bottle of Flensburger beer is worth 15 cents, while a small bottle of Budweiser is eight cents its worth. For plastic bottles, they’re worth more. A 1.5 liter bottle of water is worth 25 cents when redeemed at the store. A one liter bottle of a local beverage: 15 cents. Yet when buying a six-pack of water, you can receive as much as one Euro fifty cents back when you bring them back to the store for a refund.

And this is why many people take advantage of bottle collecting, not just because of necessity, but because one can earn a lot of money through a day’s work of reaching into garbage bins, asking people for empty bottles, climbing over walls to get a crate of empty cans, or even grab some out of the woods. Wherever they may find the best of luck, they will take the risk and collect what they can. While some people don’t mind the collectors doing their jobs- many even talk to them and listen to their stories- others see them as a nuisance and have taken action to ban them from various facilities in many cities, such as Berlin and Hamburg, for example.  And while the majority of these bottle collectors consist of unemployed people living off social welfare, there are some who just do it not just for the hobby of it, but just to get the best buck out of a bag of bottles.

And therefore, my word of advice: if you see someone rummaging through looking for empty bottles or offer to take yours, you will see why. Denying them is fruitless for if one thinks logically, no matter who gets to keep the bottle, they eventually make it to their final destination: the beverage collector machine and eventually, the recycling center. And is it worth fighting over 25 cents when we have enough to go around, but the collectors don’t? Think about it…. 😉

Club Mate is a cola made with mate extract and has less sugar than most energy drinks. It has several different flavors and can be found in all stores and even at the cafeterias at German universities. Founded in 1924, it has a website, which you can click here.





And yes, I challenge the next computer programmer to develop the game that is mentioned here. It makes an excellent competitor to Pac-Mac and Super Mario Brothers. So go ahead and let everyone know once the game is created and on the market. Go ahead now…. Just get it done! 😉


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