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Deposit Return Systems

New deposit return system for beverage containers launches in Slovakia

| Sorting systems | TOMRA Collection | Asker | Norway

A new deposit return system to encourage recycling of empty drink containers kicked off in Slovakia on Saturday, January 1, 2022. What awaits consumers and the stores serving as container return points, and how will the entire system work? Read the detailed Q&A about Slovakia’s brand new deposit system.

Slovakia’s deposit return system for cans and plastic bottles seeks to address beverage container litter and meet European Union targets for the collection of plastic beverage bottles. Approximately 1.3 billion drink containers are sold each year in Slovakia. The country is seeking to collect at least 60% of eligible containers for recycling by the end of 2022, and 90% by 2025. This would put Slovakia four years ahead of the targets in the European Union’s Single-Use Plastics Directive, which requires member states to separately collect 90% of single-use plastic bottles by 2029.

Container deposit return systems work by adding a deposit on top of the price of a beverage – such as those in plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans – which is refunded to the consumer when they return the empty bottle or can for recycling. As such, it is like buying the beverage, but borrowing the container. These programs are also known as container deposit systems or bottle bills, and are typically established through legislation passed by state or national governments. 

The deposit return system in Slovakia will use a “return-to-retail” infrastructure, whereby containers are returned for recycling to the grocery stores typically selling beverages. Their deposit system will see the installation of around 1700 reverse vending machines – an automated way to collect, sort and handle the return of used drink containers – and both mandatory and voluntary collection points across approximately 2000 stores in Slovakia. A recent survey showed that almost 86% of people in Slovakia were positive to the local deposit return system legislation. 

“It is exciting to see the deposit return system launch this week in Slovakia, to have in place the framework for our common goal to keep millions of bottles out of landfills and out of nature,” said Roman Postl, Managing Director of TOMRA Collection Slovakia. TOMRA Collection is the world’s largest provider of reverse vending machines for recycling. "We would like to congratulate the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic on this important milestone, which will help prevent beverage container litter in Slovakia, and move Slovakia toward a true circular economy."    

For almost 50 years, TOMRA has been providing a range of services and reverse vending technology to deposit return systems. Reverse vending machines provide an easy way for the public to return containers for recycling. TOMRA has approximately 80,000 reverse vending machines installed in 40 deposit regions, capturing over 40 billion used beverage containers for recycling worldwide each year.