Austria is the first European country to implement regulatory reuse targets for plastic containers, by mandating a beverage container reuse quota of 25% by 2035.  This initiative is leading businesses to change their product lines to include refillable containers, with new infrastructure under development for return systems.

Up until 25 years ago, Austria had a reusable beverage container rate of 80%, and with the switch to single-use plastic bottles globally throughout the 1990’s and beyond, this rate dropped to less than 20%.  With new policy drivers of the European Union to reduce plastic waste and improve circularity, Austria is one of the first European countries to implement regulatory reuse beverage container targets for beverage container companies. The Austrian government has committed to a reduction of 20% in the amount of single-use plastic packaging placed on the market. Part of this commitment is the development of new short and long-term legislated targets for beverage producers:

  • 25% of beverages to be sold in refillable containers by 2023, and
  • 30% of beverages to be sold in refillable containers by 2030.

Non-alcoholic beverages in containers less than 0.5 litre in size are exempted from the refillable quotas.  There is an expected implementation date of 1 January 2025 for the new scheme to be in place and operational, while the infrastructure must be in place by October 2022.

This government requirement has led to a number of new businesses to develop infrastructure for reusable beverage containers, including returnable bottle plants for refilling. Complementary measures to the reusable packaging targets include a plastic bag ban imposed nationally, a deposit for single-use plastic beverage containers to ensure they are returned for recycling in the countries extended producer responsibility programs, minimum recycled content requirements for plastic products, and a regulatory requirement that plastic packaging may only be placed on the market if it can be reused or recycled.


The European Union (EU) project on Reducing Plastic Waste in Canada