Poland will introduce a nationwide deposit system next year that will allow people to return used glass and plastic bottles and aluminium cans to shops without presenting a receipt, in a move that the climate ministry says will reduce environmental pollution.
The plans, originally announced last year and initially intended to cover glass bottles up to 1.5 litres and plastic bottles up to 3 litres, will be extended to also include aluminium cans with a volume up to 1 litre, deputy climate minister Jacek Ozdoba said yesterday.
“The introduction of a deposit system will reduce environmental pollution. For the system to work properly, it must be universally accessible and ensure that the packaging can be easily returned and the deposit reclaimed,” Ozdoba explained.
🚮 “Wprowadzenie systemu kaucyjnego pozwoli zmniejszyć zanieczyszczenia środowiska. Aby system ten funkcjonował prawidłowo, musi być powszechnie dostępny, a także zapewniać łatwy zwrot opakowania i odzyskanie kaucji” – powiedział @OzdobaJacek.
— Ministerstwo Klimatu i Środowiska (@MKiS_GOV_PL) June 2, 2022
The programme will be optional for small shops – those with an area of up to 100 square metres – while larger stores will be required by law to implement the system if they stock products sold in bottles or cans
The legislation paving the way for the new system is expected to be unveiled later in June. It will come into force from the beginning of next year, with a transition period for businesses lasting at least two years, the deputy minister said.
Ozdoba did not say how much would the deposit be, but he indicated that the system would be created by the producers themselves, as the proposed regulation leaves a lot of freedom to businesses in this regard.
The deputy minister noted that the deposit system would help reduce environmental pollution from discarded small vodka bottles (known as małpki, or monkeys, in Polish), which remain very popular in Poland.
Deposits are currently payable for glass beer bottles in Poland, although only bottles of a specific shape are covered. The new rules would be introduced as part of the EU’s 2019 directive on single-use plastics, which requires member states to collect and reuse 90% of such packaging by 2030.
Similar systems in other countries have allowed producers to get back between 80% and 95% of raw materials used for packaging, such as glass, aluminium and plastic. Their purpose is also to limit waste by introducing an incentive to sort and recycle.
Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.