17 environmental NGOs launch a Position Paper regarding the implementation of the DRS for beverage packaging in Romania

Zero Waste România, together with 16 other organizations from Romania and Europe – Reloop Platform, Zero Waste Europe, European Environmental Bureau, Bankwatch Romania, Mai Bine Association, Agent Green, SNK Association, Greenpeace Romania, Eco-Civic Foundation, Romania Green Building Council, Mă Educ Association, Ecoteca Association, Act for Tomorrow, Transition Towns Romania, Cultopedia and Pachamama Romania launched a 12-point position paper containing the key elements for the optimal implementation of the Deposit Return System (DRS), based on best practices from other states. The document has been sent today to the Romanian Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests.

If properly implemented, the DRS can be one of the most effective solutions for conserving considerable amounts of resources that would otherwise end up in landfills, incinerators or pollute nature. The DRS was included in the Romanian national legislation via GEO 74/2018, approved by Law 31/2019. but the application norms for the implementation and functioning of the system are in the process of elaboration by the Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests. 

The legislation also provides for obligations on reusable containers, i.e. an increasing reuse quota of 5% per year of reusable calculated as put to market, which cumulatively must reach a rate of 30% by 2025. In this regard, the signatory organizations propose to follow up on the legislation in force and establish a long-term target for refillables sold by retailers of at least 55% by 2030.

Under this system the consumer pays a small sum as a deposit when purchasing a beverage which will be reimbursed when the container/packaging is returned to a collection point. By implementing a deposit return system and creating financial incentives for consumers, local and central governments in several countries have managed to increase separate collection and recycling rates.

Among the 12 key elements for the optimal implementation of the system we highlight the centralized DRS, self-financed, self-controlled and transparent, as well as the system being managed by a non-profit entity – a PRO for the beverage containers; the inclusion of a wide range of packaging materials and a wide range of products, avoiding cross-subsidization for materials, reporting by the number of units / containers of beverages collected, not by volume or weight and marking the containers with the DRS symbol, easily recognizable by the consumer, and with a specific barcode. Another important aspect is that the return points should be easily accessible, and the consumer should have the possibility to return the packaging to any retailer, without being conditioned to return it only to the location where he purchased it. All retail locations obliged to take back the beverage containers should receive compensation from the system operator in form of the handling fees, equal for all retailers and calculated per unit collected. The DRS should be monitored and controlled by the Government, which should also decide upon the minimum level of the VAT free deposit value and set collection targets of at least    70% – 80% – 90% in the first, second, respectively the third year of implementation of the DRS. 

We truly believe that the proposed elements of the  upcoming deposit system for beverage containers will help to establish a  framework leading to the achievement of high collection rates in the most cost efficient manner and will result with economic development in Romania in light of Green Deal principles. We are convinced that this undertaking has potential to become a reference for other countries in South Eastern Europe.

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