20 November 2023
Ahead of the plenary vote on the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), Natural Mineral Waters Europe (NMWE), The Minderoo Foundation, The Reloop Platform, UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe and Zero Waste Europe call on Members of the European Parliament to reject any amendment aiming at turning the mandatory setting up of Deposit Refund Systems (DRS) into a voluntary measure.
If adopted, those amendments would considerably reduce the level of ambition of the PPWR regarding the collection and recycling of beverage packaging.
Indeed, as recognized by the European Commission in its proposal, and by the ENVI Committee in its report adopted in October, DRS have a key role to play in achieving a circular economy for beverage packaging. European countries with long-established DRS (such as the Nordics) usually report collection rates up to 95% and countries that have recently implemented DRS (Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Malta) already see high collection rates, going up to 90%.
Given current collection performances in other parts of the EU, many Member States are unlikely to achieve their EU collection targets without setting up a DRS. As an example, in France, where many advocate against a mandatory DRS, research shows a 60% collection rate for PET bottles, with limited ability to get to the 77% requested by the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive by 2025. The absence of well-performing collection schemes in every single Member State would jeopardize the EU recycling and recycled content targets.
DRS are one of the most efficient options for meeting those targets but also for creating a closed-loop recycling system ensuring the material collected can be recycled in new beverage containers.
Indeed, DRS have not only delivered high collection rates for beverage packaging in countries where they are in place, but they also have the benefit of providing high-quality food-grade recycled material in a clean single stream. They can contribute towards the EU’s climate objectives by reducing the need for virgin materials thanks to closed-loop recycling.
Another important factor is the widespread consumer support for DRS. For example, surveys found 92% of the French public support its introduction, and in Slovakia, 83% support rose to 89% after the DRS was introduced.
For those reasons, the obligation to set up a DRS in each Member State should be maintained in the EU PPWR and the only exemptions provided should be based on similar very high collection rates achieved by other EPR schemes. This is the only way to ensure high collection rates are achieved in every single EU Member State. Removing this obligation would be accepting a status-quo where too much beverage packaging ends up being littered, not properly collected and therefore not recycled or reused as it should.
We therefore urge MEPs to reject amendments 409, 426, 429, 433, 455 in the vote in plenary on 22 November.