Natural Mineral Waters Europe, UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe, and Zero Waste Europe urge the EU to acknowledge the role of Deposit-Refund Systems (DRS) and support the establishment of minimum requirements for new DRS in the revision of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. They also reiterate their full commitment to collaborate with policymakers and local stakeholders in the implementation of efficient industry-wide collection schemes across the EU.
What’s the Deposit-Refund System?
The deposit-refund system is a mechanism that allows the reuse of packaging avoiding that it ends up in landfills. Deposit-refunds are used for beverage containers, lead-acid batteries, motor oil, tires, various hazardous materials, electronics, and more. Currently this system exists in 38 countries around the world.
Accelerating the transition to a circular economy, as set out in the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, is a collective objective and DRS are part of the solution to contribute to it and achieve the target to make all packaging reusable and recyclable by 2030. In addition, the EU’s Single Use Plastics Directive imposes a 90% collection rate for plastic beverage bottles by 2029 and a minimum of 25% recycled plastic in PET bottles from 2025 (30% from 2030 in all beverage bottles).
Given current collection performances across the EU, many EU Member States are unlikely to achieve the EU collection targets. This is why we support well-designed DRS as one of the most efficient options for meeting the collection and recycled content targets set in the EU’s Single Use Plastics Directive but also as an opportunity to create a closed-loop recycling system guaranteeing the material is returned and recycled in new beverage containers.Nicholas Hodac, UNESDA’s Director General
DRS have not only delivered high collection rates for beverage packaging in countries where they are in place, but they also have the benefit of providing high-quality food-grade recycled material in a clean single stream. They can also contribute towards the EU’s climate objectives, for example by reducing the need for virgin materials thanks to closed loop recycling. However, in spite of their excellent track record, the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste legislation does not currently address DRS in any way, nor does it secure closed loop recycling for food-grade materials.Patricia Fosselard, NMWE’s Secretary General
The European Commission can play a crucial role in filling this gap by developing minimum requirements to assist EU Member States to provide a strong framework for the establishment of efficient new DRS.
Such minimum requirements should build on those for Extended Producer Responsibility schemes laid down in the Waste Framework Directive. Setting up this guidance at EU level could help ensure that DRS infrastructure across Member States also accommodates where possible, from the outset, refillable packaging, in line with the EU goals on packaging waste prevention and reuse. With a swift adoption of those minimum requirements,they are confident that they can move faster towards meeting both circular economy and climate objectives.Joan Marc Simon, Director of Zero Waste Europe
Natural Mineral Waters Europe, UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe, and Zero Waste Europe believe that any new Deposit Refund System should be established along some basic principles with respect to geographical and material scope, governance, consumer convenience and incentivisation, and producers’ access to recycled materials.