Pfandme / Designing for with bottle collectors in Berlin

The project focus on the relationship and hidden gap between bottle disposer and collector in our local community, in order to find out the need and solutions for bottle collector with the frame of a trust, respect, and inclusion.
Bottle collectors  and residence of Berlin
My role as a Designer
Research about the Start-up ecosystem in Berlin to understand the relationship between Culture and Innovation in a fast-growing Startup and design product based on the research 
Social business
Benji, Ekta, Juan Sebastian
Place / year
Berlin,  2017

strategic design


In Berlin, There are over 2000 bottle collectors but we don’t see them, or maybe we don’t want to see them. The rise in bottle-collecting is a hidden symptom of social problems which have affected Berlin since the fall of the Wall in 1989. The city may have a large creative class, but the German capital remains heavily in debt and unemployment is stuck at over 13 percent. At the same time, € 172 million worth bottles are thrown away inside the bins where collectors have to dig in something not only humiliating but also dangerous. 


During our research, we used different methods such as extreme empathy, and immersion. Our goal was to have the closest understanding of the situation of bottle collectors, empathy. One night we walked in the districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg from 22:00 to 4:00 dressed up like some collectors, and we picked up bottles to then discover behaviors and information that would have been difficult to collect just by asking experts. We also talked to bottle collectors once we had a better understanding.


it was during our analysis phase where we used Systematic Thinking to map out all the stakeholders involved in the bottle collector activity and also the correlation between them. This allowed us to change the direction of the project, and instead of trying to help the residents of Berlin to recycle the bottles, we decided to give a voice to the bottle collectors, and make them the protagonist of the story.



We have designed and tested several ideas mainly trying to create a connection between the bottle collectors and the residents of Berlin. We used different methods and one of them was the gamification. One of the concepts was to encourage people to leave the bottles outside the bin to score a point, and then the collectors had to pick up bottles to also score. However, many of the concepts we tested were not considered to avoid to break ethical boundaries with such as sensitive problem.


It is a social innovation brand, that connects, bottle collectors, consumers, and local NGOs through different touchpoints such a soft drink, art workshops, and a digital platform. 


Every time you buy a bottle you are supporting with 50 cents to NGO’s in Berlin 


Find a collector and give the bottle directly to him or her


Help the collectors to find easier the bottles. It will prevent injuries


Each label contains a name of one of the collectors, now you can find his or her story in the website


We cooperate with NGOs and connect collectors and volunteers. Then we run workshops to empower collectors to express themselves through art. They draw alphabets, stories, feelings or messages. Then we digitalize those and print them on the labels. Each label has the name of the collector behind the design, and trough the website you see the story behind each collector, participate in one of the workshops, donate, or you can also buy the drink.

+49 157 72932177
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All rights Reserved Juan Sebastian Useche, 2019