With Europeans generating packaging waste on an unprecedented scale, the roll-out of plastic deposit-refund schemes is gathering pace across Europe. The latest country to adopt this kind of measure is Romania, which will refund EUR 0.10 for each bottle returned.
The day-to-day system that drives the ecological transition and is perfectly in tune with the codes of the circular economy. It involves a deposit-refund scheme for recyclable plastic. In this case, people will receive the equivalent of €0.10 for each plastic bottle returned.
The scheme is due to officially launch on November 30. The launch of the RetuRO program is already a victory in itself, since the project has been repeatedly postponed due to pressure from retailers, who were evidently not ready to integrate the process into their operations. Initially, it was due to be rolled out from January 2021, before being postponed until October 1, 2022.
Deposit-refund schemes are not new, but they are on the rise in Europe. Plastic bottles have been returnable in Sweden since 1994, while Norway followed suit in 1999 for plastic and aluminum packaging. Germany, for its part, can pride itself on being top of the class, with its deposit system dedicated to all reusable beverage containers rolled out all the way back in 1990, before being bolstered in 2003 by an initiative integrating all single-use containers, such as yogurt pots.
The Netherlands adopted a deposit-refund system in 2004, but waited until 2021 to include plastic containers of less than one liter, paying an average of €0.15 for each bottle returned. In 2005, a deposit system was rolled out in Estonia, where €0.10 is returned for each bottle. In the Baltic countries, Lithuania set an example in 2016 when it introduced this kind of scheme, also requiring companies to pay a “pollution” tax when less than 95% of their plastic bottles are recycled. In 2022, Slovakia, Latvia and Malta joined the gradual roll-out of the deposit-refund system across Europe.