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Recycle with bail for glass, plastic and aluminum bottles. The example of Lithuania.

Recycle with bail for glass, plastic and aluminum bottles. The example of Lithuania.

di Carla Andrea Fundarotto

Going from 34 to 92% of separate collection thus contributing to the protection of the planet. The experiment was successful in the small Baltic state of Lithuania, thanks to a bail system involving buyers and sellers.

Deposit with deposit, how does the system work?

When purchasing a drink, the consumer pays 10 cents as a deposit , which is then returned to him in cash or vouchers when he returns the empty packaging to the seller. Every shop that sells drinks and that is larger than 300 square meters, in fact, is required to collect the empties and refund the deposit.

A system that has advantages for everyone:

  • for the Municipalities, which see separate waste collection made lighter.
  • For recycle companies.
  • For packaging manufacturers, who have entrusted the management of the whole process to a third party who takes care of it.
  • For shopkeepers, who return to customers the deposits related to the containers collected.
  • And consequently also for the State, which has seen the recycling rate of packaging increase.

Sustainability and recycle of packaging

The unsustainable growth in global demand for plastic (+ 4% annually) can lead its production to account for 15% of planetary CO2 emissions by 2050. A recent study of the University of California has shown how the environmental disaster can be mitigated by working on the use of renewable energy and increasing the recycling rate.

The birth of the initiative in Lithuania

It all began in February 2016, when the government of Lithuania thought of a deposit system with a deposit of € 0.10 to encourage consumers to actively participate in the recycle of food packaging. The security was then made by returning the recyclable glass, plastic or metal beverage containers.

The Lithuanian Minister of the Environment, on a proposal from the beverage industry, had already introduced a proposal for the storage of packaging in 2013. Then, in 2015, the start of a regulatory reform that assigns the management of the new deposit system to the non-profit organization Užstato Sistemos Administratorius (USAD).

A successful system

Already at the end of 2016, 99.8% of citizens were aware of it, 89% had used it at least once (58% on several occasions), 78% considered it useful and necessary. And already in the first year, the overall collection rate of beverage containers went from 33 to 74.3%, almost twenty points above the target set by USAD (55%).

“We feel the obligation to take care of our country, society and nature. We can be proud of our deposit return system” said Saulius Galadauskas, of the Lithuanian Brewers Association.

In Italy a similar experiment is already being thought of

The Associazione Comuni Virtuosi has been fighting for years for a deposit system for beverage containers in Italy as well. Their proposal consists of a small deposit, between 5 and 25 cents, which is applied to the selling price of the drinks and which serves to commit the consumer to return the empty container to a point of sale to allow it to be recycled.

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