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Can marking places beer back on German shelves

Rexam has helped German retail chain NETTO re-introduce beer in beverage cans into its stores with a special can marking system following the furore caused by the country's controversial deposit system on one-way beverage cans.

The Government tax has been in force since January 2003 despite strong consumer, drinks producer and retailer opposition. Since then German consumers buying non-reusable beverage cans and plastic bottles have compulsorily paid a €25-50 cent deposit on each pack, a development that has dramatically hit some drinks’ sales, both by forcing buyers to pay a premium, and requiring them to return used containers to the point of sale to reclaim their deposit. Many German retailers have removed canned beer from shelves altogether.

The German Government’s claim that 75% of the country’s retail outlets “now operate open systems accepting any containers” has failed to convince the European Commission, which recently sent a “Reasoned Opinion” to the German Administration, the first step in a legal process which could eventually see Germany taken to the European Court of Justice.

NETTO originally removed canned beer from its shelves last September, but, after working with Rexam to devise a solution, will now accommodate the one-way deposit scheme via an “island solution”, with its system only paying out deposits on cans registered with the retailer. Containers on which no deposit has been paid at NETTO stores will be rejected, with a special mark applied to the can end enabling consumers to easily differentiate NETTO cans from those sold elsewhere.

Director of Rexam Beverage Can Europe & Asia Tomas Sjölin adds: “Previously plastic bottles were regarded as the only viable option for retailer island solutions (because they could be individually shaped for the various stores). The new design and marking system gives every German retailer the opportunity to create their own similar island solution.”