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Slovakia is the first country in the Central European region with a nationwide deposit return scheme for disposable packaging.
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Deposit return scheme has a green light

The climate crisis, sustainability and green politics are the new everyday issues in society and areas that must be addressed if our planet is to have a chance of recovery. At HAVEL & PARTNERS, we are fully aware that we cannot turn a blind eye to the climate and that it is essential to actively participate in the recovery. That is why we are delighted to have been able to contribute as legal counsel to Správca zálohového systému (Deposit System Administrator) in the preparation, launch and operation of a system for the collection of disposable beverage packaging in Slovakia.

Approximately one billion disposable plastic bottles and 345 million beverage cans are placed on the Slovak market each year. However, only about three-fifths of plastic bottles are collected in the form of separate waste collection. The deposit system for disposable beverage packaging can increase this amount and thus achieve a significantly higher return of packaging, which will also allow for its subsequent recycling.

The impetus for the introduction of the deposit system came from the European Union, which set baseline targets for the recycling of disposable beverage packaging and made it mandatory for the Member States to ensure that 77% of disposable plastic bottles are collected by 2025 and 90% by 2029.

The return rate of deposit packaging in European deposit schemes ranges between 82% and 98%, while the Deposit System Administrator has set its own objective of achieving a minimum return rate of 90% for PET bottles and cans already by 2025, i.e., much earlier than required by the European legislation.

What benefits can producers have from the deposit return scheme?

In addition to the obligation to collect plastic packaging, the European legislation also introduces obligations for producers in the area of the material composition of plastic products placed on the market. The legislation obliges producers to comply with a minimum of a quarter of recycled material in their plastic packaging by 2025 and then to increase this proportion to 30% from 2030. Many producers, as part of sustainable operating models, have even decided to set their own objectives for the proportion of recycled material in their packaging that exceed the minimum legislative requirements to minimise the waste they place on the market with their beverages.

It is precisely the obligation to achieve the required percentage of recycled material with which the deposit system can help producers significantly. With the deposit return scheme, producers will have access to a greater volume of collected material. And the deposit return scheme can also significantly increase the quality of collected PET bottles and cans as secondary raw materials and encourage their subsequent use in the production of other bottles.

With the launch of the deposit return scheme of PET bottles and cans, Slovakia has joined the greener part of European countries and is the first country in the Central European region with a nationwide deposit return scheme for disposable packaging.

Slovakia launched the deposit system for disposable beverage packaging, including PET bottles and aluminium cans, in January this year. When buying a beverage in such packaging, the buyer will now also pay a deposit of EUR 0.15 (less than CZK 4), which will be refunded if they hand in the deposit packaging at one of the collection points. As of March 2022, there were already more than two thousand collection points across Slovakia and, in addition to the mandatory collection points (establishments with an area of at least 300 m2), a number of voluntary collection points in smaller establishments or even directly in the plants of large companies are also becoming involved, whereby employers are trying to enable their employees to deposit packaging directly at work.

Slovakia is thus one step closer to a cleaner environment and we are glad that as legal counsel to the Deposit System Administrator we were able to contribute to their activities towards sustainability and environmentally responsible business.



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