Industry representatives join call for bottle return system

Ljubljana – Beverage companies have expressed support for an initiative urging the introduction of a bottle deposit scheme for drinks packaging. They believe the system would help boost environmental efforts as well as support the food and drinks industry, which has been plagued by supply issues.

The proposal to put in place the bottle return system in Slovenia was given by the environmental NGO Eko Krog late last year. Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak is in favour of the initiative, saying not long after it was line with the new environment protection bill.

The association of beverage companies, which is part of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), has joined the call, noting that the system would ensure a better separate collection of beverage bottles, both those that can be reused and those intended for recycling.

“According to the minister, with good cooperation and strengthened dialogue, the new environment protection act could already include articles regulating waste management so that a national packaging deposit system could be set up,” the association said in a press release.

Eleven countries in Europe have such a scheme in place – Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and, from this year, Slovakia. Meanwhile, in Slovenia there is a deposit system for returnable glass packaging.

Under the packaging return scheme, consumers pay a deposit which is returned to them after they return the packaging or product in question.

The drinks packaging deposit system would offer consumers an economic incentive to return empty containers to the shop, hence improving recycling or reuse rates, the association said. Under the system, beverage bottles would be collected, as well as cans in some cases.

Such efforts are also key when it comes to the implementation of an EU directive that commits member states to separately collect 77% of beverage bottles for recycling by 2025. The share is expected to rise to 90% by 2029, the press release adds.

“We will assist and actively engage in the preparation and implementation of the necessary activities for the introduction of an effective system that will enable the attainment of the goals of separate collection of beverage packaging, and the exemplary implementation of the principles of extended producer responsibility and environmental efforts,” said Tatjana Zagorc, head of the GZS chamber of agricultural and food companies, under which the association operates.

In addition to Minister Vizjak and the industry representatives, the NGO’s initiative is also supported by the centre-left opposition Marjan Šarec Party (LMŠ).