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Beverage industry advocates the introduction of deposits in the European Union
30 september 2020
There should be a well-functioning deposit system in all countries of the European Union. This is what two European trade associations of the beverage industry write in a statement. UNESDA represents the soft drink producers including Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Danone and Red Bull. EFBW represents the water producers in Europe.
Together, they believe that only a deposit can ensure that European collection and recycling targets are met. Thanks to deposits, it is also possible to meet their targets to use more recycled material (rPET). The industry organizations call on the European Commission to draw up criteria that an okay functioning deposit system must meet.
The statement is a real game-changer, according to a response from Recycling Netwerk. Not so long ago, the beverage industry resisted the introduction of deposits with all possible means.
Single-Use Directive Decisive
The Single-Use Plastic Directive of the European Union has proven to be decisive for the turnaround of the beverage industry. By 2029, 90% of plastic beverage bottles sold must be collected for recycling. Europe also states that more recycled PET must be incorporated in the bottles; at least 25% in 2025 and at least 30% in 2030. The member states must ensure that these targets are met, but in countries without a comprehensive deposit system, these percentages are not completed due to a lack of bottle collection. So as to make beverage bottles from recycled PET, the material must be of good quality. A deposit system provides sufficient clean streams of PET material to meet the targets and food safety requirements.
Remarkably, the statement does not mention the effect of deposits on litter. When the consumer receives money back when returning a used bottle or can, those beverage containers hardly end up in the environment anymore. Increasingly, therefore, beverage multinationals are being called to account for their responsibility for the creation of litter and plastic soup. After all, they are the ones who put the beverage packaging on the market. During the last World Cleanup Day in the Netherlands, Red Bull was once again at the top as the biggest polluter. Coca-Cola is the company that contributes the most to the plastic soup worldwide.
The declaration of both trade associations states that the deposit system must apply to all ‘relevant categories’ and ‘types of packaging’, without any further definition. It is unclear whether cans and, for example, pouches are also included, while these are found in large numbers in the litter. It is also unclear whether supermarkets will give up their traditional resistance against the extension of deposits. After all, they too depend on clean return flows to be able to use more recyclate in the packaging of their brands.
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