Current Affairs
Proposals for refund scheme on drinks containers

The private sector in the drinks industry seems determined that the refund scheme on drinks containers should be managed by themselves. They do not seem to want other sectors to be involved in the Government’s scheme to begin this process in the coming year, a scheme to enable a reduction in waste material. At the end of the public consultation period to discuss the scheme, TVM is informed the Government received 18 proposals, among them from the private sector, a proposal that the scheme should be managed by a foundation representing various operators in the sector.

Local drinks producers and importers utilise containers that annually involves 230 million containers on the market and are working on a plan they themselves will operate a refund scheme that may be 10 cents refund on containers that are returned on machines that will be placed in shops participating in the scheme.

The proposal by market operators was coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce, the GRTU and two schemes for the recycling of waste material, that is Green Pak Coop and Green MT. Sources close to this industry spoke to TVM and said the strategy, among other aspects, should cause the least possible impact on the price structure of drinks for consumers.

The strategy was handled by an especially established committee directed by Pierre Fava who stressed to TVM that the industry is sensitive to environmental issues but also has to protect its own commercial interests.

Fava said the data of what is on the market is sensitive, that is, what is being sold as well as material that is being collected. He said the sector is maintaining the Government will have an Authority and there is no objection the Authority should view the data but this should not be viewed publicly. Nor should the data be in the hands of individuals who will then use it for their own profitable purpose.

He continued by saying their proposals are inclusive for the sector even covering those outlets that do not have the space to have a machine, so that these will not be disadvantaged.

In this respect, Fava mentioned kiosks and small shops, and said these will be offered apps and there will be a device that may be used and a refuse container sack will be collected so there will be no storage problems.

Fava said the committed suggested that on return of a drinks container on which a deposit has been paid will be refunded by a coupon.

He continued saying that if a bottle fits the specified parameters of the machine, that is, it will be empty, that is not damaged, that it is whole and not crushed, this will be accepted by the machine in return for a money coupon or a loyalty card.

Fava maintained this scheme should not replace two authorised schemes that are currently recovering waste for recycling.

Marc Muscat, Consultant to the Ministry for the Environment, said all the proposals put to Government will have been studied.

He said that at this stage all points that have been submitted are under study and all the valid points made will be assessed according to the document the Ministry presented. He said there appears to be a general consensus the refund should not exceed more than ten cents on each container even though some proposals are suggesting 25 cents.

Marc Muscat said their position is it should be ten cents so as to keep the scheme as simple as possible. This is also in the light of the impact of inflation and that outside of Malta the refund of ten cents is generally widespread throughout EU countries.

The Ministry for the Environment believes that as a result of the implementation of this scheme, Malta will be taking a step forward to achieve the aims set by the EU for the recycling of packaging material.

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