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Deposits and the deposit system in Poland. Expert commentary on the “breakthrough year 2022”

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The deposit system will pay off for the stores, because customers will spend the money for the returned bottles anyway, doing more shopping at the same time – believes Konrad Robak from TOMRA Collection Polska. The Ministry of Climate and Environment announced that there will be further changes to the deposit project.

Konrad Robak, Country & Business Development Manager TOMRA Collection Polska, stated that 2022 was a breakthrough year in terms of legislative action regarding waste management projects in Poland.

Deposit system – project

At the end of December last year The government has adopted an act which is to implement the EU single use plastics (SUP) directive into national regulations. Its goal is to reduce the use of single-use plastic. The second project under development is to implement a deposit-refund system in Poland.

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Work on this project has been going on for over a year and it has been changed several times. The Ministry of Climate and Environment, in response to PAP’s questions, informed about another one. As explained, minor clarifications have been introduced in the draft act resulting from the continuous dialogue with the industry. “Taking into account the recent statements of industry organizations, it should be considered that such a level has been reached” – it was assessed.

The ministry informed that in terms of changes in fractions (covered by the deposit-refund system), it concerns aluminum cans with a capacity of up to 1 liter. They have been replaced with metal cans of the same capacity.

This means that the deposit-refund system is to cover plastic packaging for drinks with a capacity of up to 3 liters, reusable glass packaging for beverages with a capacity of up to 1.5 liters, and now – after the latest change – metal cans with a capacity of up to 1 liter.

The ministry also informed that in mid-January the draft act on the deposit-refund system was submitted to the Chancellery of the Prime Minister for consideration by the Standing Committee of the Council of Ministers. “It now depends on the work at this stage how quickly the project will be discussed by the Council of Ministers” – added.

Changes in the deposit-refund system

Konrad Robak explains that the Polish deposit-refund system, which is being designed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, will use the “return-to-retail” model. It means that beverage shops will become legally responsible for accepting used beverage containers for recycling. – Thanks to this method, in the best organized markets, a return rate of almost 100% is achieved – emphasized the representative of TOMRA Collection Polska

– In most countries, it is accepted that the operator, i.e. the entity responsible for the operation of the system, pays a handling fee to stores for each container collected so that they can recover all investment and operating costs. Handling fees must cover the direct costs associated with the collection of empty beverage containers. We are talking here, among others, about the purchase and operation of machines, i.e. recyclers or bottle machines, the allocation of appropriate space in the store, the costs of electricity and connection to the network, as well as transport and logistics. The amounts of these fees range from EUR 0.01 to EUR 0.35 per single package. Importantly, the more materials covered by the deposit-refund system (plastic bottles, glass bottles, cans), the more benefits for stores due to higher handling fees. This, in turn, accelerates the return on their investments, explained Robak.

A representative of the industry argues that one of the key benefits of the deposit-refund system for a store may be the fact that consumers who return beverage packaging in a given facility will most likely use the refunded amount of the deposit as part of shopping in that particular store. According to the draft, stores with an area of ​​more than 200 square meters are to enter the system. For smaller outlets it will be voluntary, although they will still have to collect a deposit on the products covered by it.

– Data from other countries where the system is in place show that it can increase the number of customer visits to the store. It turns out that 93 percent of Swedish users of the deposit-refund system made purchases when returning empty packaging, and 44 percent made a full weekly purchase then. Our research identified four countries where shoppers who returned beverage containers spent more money on purchases than those who did not return them. Poles want to participate in this, as evidenced by recent research – over 90 percent of us are ready to return beverage packaging covered by a deposit – he added.

Konrad Robak pointed out that in most European countries with a deposit-refund system, there is a collection model in stores. He explained that, for example, in Norway all stores are included in the system, which gave the operator the opportunity to develop and implement solutions favorable to each store size. These smaller outlets can take advantage of “on-demand” collections, rather than according to a fixed schedule.

In the Baltic states, two store space limits were decided. In cities, the collection obligation applies to stores over 300 square meters. In smaller towns and villages, on the other hand, these are outlets with an area of ​​60 square meters. On Lithuaniadespite the fact that there are twice as many manual collection points than with automatic collection, it is the recyclers that collect as much as 89 percent of beverage packaging. This also shows what consumer preferences are regarding the form of returning the containers – pointed out Konrad Robak.

He added that on Latvia special containers on wheels appeared in which the store can store both bags with disposable packaging and boxes with returnable glass bottles. When collecting the packaging, the operator replaces the full container with an empty one.

– Examples from other European countries can be an inspiration for the Polish market, and proven solutions can be adapted to local needs. According to the assumptions, the deposit-refund system is to be in force in Poland from 2025. Therefore, we should start preparations for its implementation as soon as possible – summed up the representative of TOMRA Collection Polska.

Read also: Deposit for returnable bottles up. We will pay twice as much

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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