DRS, Deposit Return Scheme. Three textbook cases

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Deposit-Return-Scheme

The introduction of the DRS (Deposit Return Scheme), the deposit with deposit on disposable beverage packaging, allows the EU collection objectives to be reached in just one year. The data emerges from the study published on the ‘A good rendering’ campaign website which analyzes the circular economy performances achieved in Slovakia, Latvia and Malta, thanks to the deposit systems with deposit adopted in 2022. (1)

1) Slovakia, big leap forward in two years of Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)

Slovakia introduced a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) from 1 January 2022 on PET bottles and cans. Already after the first year, the collection target of 60% was widely exceeded, reaching 71%. And in the second year of application, the DRS made it possible to reach a collection rate for disposable beverage packaging of 92%, compared to a target set at 80%.

The SUPs directive (Single Use Plastics), it should be remembered, has set two collection objectives for disposable beverage bottles, in the short and medium term:

  • 77% by 2025,
  • 90% by 2029. (2)

In just two years, the Slovakian DRS system has therefore made it possible both to exceed the European collection objectives six years early and to improve the quality of separate waste collection. 70% of the recovered plastic was in fact used to manufacture new containers.

2) Latvia, recycling and refill

The Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) introduced in Latvia on 1 January 2022 concerns PET and glass bottles and cans.

At the end of 2023, the average collection percentage of containers subject to DRS reached 80%. In particular,

– the collection share of disposable PET bottles for drinks has grown from 45% to 83%, well above the SUP Directive target,

– the percentage of refillable glass bottles has increased from 50% to 90%.

3) Malta, first DRS in Southern Europe

In Malta a DRS system was adopted in mid-November 2023 for PET and glass bottles, as well as cans. Malta is the first Member State in Mediterranean Europe to adopt a deposit system.

NB Ireland has had a DRS in place since March 2024. Source: https://www.acrplus.org/images/technical-reports/2023_ACR_Deposit_Refund_Systems_EU_Report.pdf

The collection target set by Maltese law – 70%, for all materials – was exceeded in the second year of DRS, reaching

– 81% for Pet,

– 74% for glass,

– 80% for cans.

The shortage of factories processing in the area involves the transport of the collected materials to France, Germany and Italy. In this way, 9.545 tons of beverage packaging were recycled. The quotas for materials are

  • 3.907 tons of PET bottles,
  • 834 tons of aluminum cans,
  • 4.804 tons of glass bottles.

4) The Slovakian example

Everyone will be able to reach the goal of recycled content of the SUP for PET bottles if they create the conditions that exist in Slovakia where beverage producers have priority access to collected materials (in proportion to their release for consumption) provided that they recycle them in suitable packaging applications to food contact.

That is to say: “bottle to bottle“and “can to can” which means that from a bottle or can I create an identical container with recycled and non-virgin material and not (as happens now) yarns or other objects in the case of PET, or car components in the case of aluminium.

Otherwise we continue to use virgin raw materials to create disposable containers, worsening the climate and resource crisis‘, (Silvia Ricci, Association of Virtuous Municipalities, responsible for the Waste and Circular Economy area as well as coordinator of the ‘A good rendering’ campaign). (3)

The new data on the performance of the Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) established in 18 Member States, demonstrate the urgency of activating a deposit system with deposit also in reluctant countries.

The main lesson for Italy (where incorrect and misleading information about DRS continues to circulate) is that every year lost in trying to delay the inevitable has a cost that weighs on local authorities and taxpayers‘, recalls the expert.

Marta Strinati

Footnotes

(1) Deposit Refund System in the EU. Association of Cities and Regions for sustainable Resource management (ACR+). December 2023 https://www.acrplus.org/images/technical-reports/2023_ACR_Deposit_Refund_Systems_EU_Report.pdf

(2) Dario Dongo, Luca Foltran. SUP Directive, Legislative Decree 196/21. New rules on single-use plastic items from 14.1.22. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(3) Marta Strinati. Security deposit system for beverage bottles. The campaign of the Virtuous Municipalities. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".

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