450 reverse vending machines to be in place by end of 2020

Beverage container refund scheme for plastics, metal and glass beverages to be in place by the end of 2020

The new operation will require an estimated investment of €15 million and will include a 4,000sq.m factory, the installation of central equipment and IT systems and approximately 450 reverse vending machines
The new operation will require an estimated investment of €15 million and will include a 4,000sq.m factory, the installation of central equipment and IT systems and approximately 450 reverse vending machines

A beverage container refund scheme which will see people depositing plastic, metal or glass beverage containers in a reverse vending machine for a 10-cent refund, is expected to come in place by the end of 2020 after prolonged consultations with stakeholders.

The new system will be run by an organisation made up of operators involved in the importation and retail of beverage containers.

The new operation will require an estimated investment of €15 million and will include a 4,000sq.m factory, the installation of central equipment and IT systems and approximately 450 reverse vending machines.

The factory will be used to “process” all the material collected through the refund system.

The system was first proposed in the 2015 budget and was mentioned in subsequent budgets including that of last year.

“The objective is to have all installations completed by end of 2020,” Marc Muscat, the CEO of the Resource, Recovery and Recycling Agency (RRRA), told MaltaToday.

2020 will also see the obligatory registration of every operator who imports, produces or sells beverage containers in the market.

Every product will also be registered according to container size, material properties and profile in line with the regulations.

Who will be running the new system?

According to Muscat the preferred operator for the new set-up will be the “organisation made up of those operators placing a significant majority of containers on the market”.

In line with the EU’s Waste Framework Directive, the selected organisation has to be run either on a not-for-profit basis, or on a basis where profit is not intended for distribution among owners.

The management of the organisation has to be independent and has “to operate at an arms’ length basis from its shareholders, members or founders”.

The selected company also has to assume the collective extended producer responsibility on behalf of all producers and retailers of single use containers.

It also has to allow for the participation, whether directly or indirectly, of all producers and retailers in a non-discriminatory manner, regardless of their origin or size, without placing a disproportionate regulatory burden on producers, including small and medium-sized enterprises, of small quantities of products.

Why did it take so long?

In December 2018, the representatives of the main stakeholders in the production, import and retail sector had signed a memorandum of understanding with the RRRA. This led to extensive negotiations where details on operations, responsibilities and obligations were defined.

The revisions had to reflect the amended Waste Framework Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive that came into force in 2018 together with the Single Use Plastic Directive which came into force in 2019. This process was concluded in September. Subsequently the technical regulations were notified to the European Commission.

“We are currently in the 3-month standing period which is anticipated to close on the 5th December, 2019,” Muscat said.

In the meantime discussions have been held with Malta Industrial Parks and factory space for the new venture has already been identified.

Stakeholders have also established three new associations, catering for the local beverages producers, the importers of beverages and the retailers of beverages.

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