The deposit return scheme : for the reuse of packaging and the reduction of plastic pollution!


More than 400 million tons of plastic are produced every year, 36% of which is packaging that we use every day for our food, drinks, hygiene, cleaning and manufacturing products, and to transport them.
This packaging contributes directly to the plastic pollution of the ocean.
To fight against this pollution it is essential to reduce the amount of packaging on the market, to reuse it, and at the end of its life to guarantee its collection and recycling.

The reuse of packaging, through the implementation of a deposit system, is the solution we support to reduce the overall environmental impact of packaging.

What is a deposit system?

A deposit involves giving a value to a packaging: it takes the form of an additional sum affixed to the packaging. This is usually paid when a product is purchased and collected when the empty packaging is returned. It can also be collected if the packaging is not returned. The aim is to encourage people to return their containers to a dedicated collection point in order to reduce their leakage into the environment and optimise a return system. Packaging recovered in this way can have two purposes:

- To be reused. To be washed, refilled and remarketed. In this model, the containers are standardised, rewashed and reused dozens or even hundreds of times in a short circuit. This system guarantees the circularity of packaging and the effective reduction of waste. The containers are then returned to the point of sale or to voluntary drop-off points.

- To be recycled. The container is crushed and sent to a recycling plant where the material is recovered, melted down and reused in another product or packaging.
 In this case, the packaging is collected for recycling via a different collection route from the recycling bin at home, usually by the consumer voluntarily bringing it to a collection point.

Towards a deposit system imposed by law?

The deposit system is not new!

It is commonly used in several European countries with various models and has already proven its effectiveness in reducing and collecting waste.

The deposit system exists in Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Germany, Belgium, Croatia and the Netherlands to reuse glass beverage bottles and/or recycling plastic PET bottles and aluminium cans.

However, this is not yet a dominant and widespread model in Europe. While countries in the South are beginning to take measures to develop deposit system, such as Spain, Portugal and France, the European Union is preparing a harmonised regulation for packaging

A European regulation that encourages reuse.

The European Directive on single-use plastics requires Member States to achieve a separate collection rate for plastic bottles of 77% by 2025 and 90% by 2029.

It therefore invites Member States to adopt a deposit system to achieve these targets.

This is a first step towards the regulation on packaging and packaging waste, through which the European Commission wishes to harmonise the rules for placing recyclable and/or reusable packaging on the market by 2030.

This proposal for a regulation reinstates the mandatory deposit for plastic bottles and cans by 2029.
It sets reuse targets for several beverage containers (water, soft drinks, alcohol), but also for food containers, particularly in take-away sales, with an incentive to develop reuse and refill systems.

These are measures that we strongly support and that we have mentioned in our European recommendations: What the EU can do to reduce single use packaging and plastic pollution in food services?

Let's mobilise for a deposit re-use system in Europe!

You can currently give your opinion on the European Commission's proposal for a packaging and packaging waste regulation here until 24 April.
 The aim is to strengthen the proposal, in favour of the prevention of packaging waste (elimination of unnecessary packaging in the catering or hotel industry or for fruit and vegetables), and the development of reuse (increase the reuse rates, develop an economic incentive for the return of reusable packaging).
 In this sense, you can consult the joint contribution of the Rethink Plastic Alliance coalition.

You can also commit to supporting reuse individually, or collectively by inviting your city or company to do so, by joining the European campaign WE CHOOSE REUSE!

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