Slovakia first country in region to adopt deposit scheme for plastic bottles

From Monday, Slovaks can return undamaged plastic bottles and cans to supermarkets. [Shutterstock / ITTIGallery]

From Monday, Slovaks can return undamaged plastic bottles and cans to supermarkets. Slovakia has become the first country in Central Europe and only the eighth country in the EU to introduce a deposit system of this kind.

When purchasing a plastic bottle or can, every customer will pay an additional fee of 15 cents. Once empty, consumers can return plastic bottles or cans to the supermarkets that have joined the deposit system. Then, if the package is undamaged, they will get back the deposit in full.

All stores with an area of more than 300 square metres will be required to have collection points for beverage packaging, smaller shops will join the system voluntarily. Currently, more than 2,000 delivery points have joined the deposit return system, but more are expected to take part in the coming months.

The deposit will only apply to bottles and cans marked with the letter Z derived from the word deposit in Slovak. Stores will still sell drinks not marked with the letter which are to be disposed of in plastic waste bins. The deposit applies to all beverages in packages with a volume of 0.1 to three litres.

Exceptions to the scheme include milk and beverages with milk content (also coffee with milk) or beverages with an alcohol content of 15% or higher.

“This is a turning point for Slovakia,” said Environment Minister Ján Budaj (OĽaNO nominee) on Monday. ” We went to collect these bottles from the lakes. They filled rivers, got into mountains and then destroyed the seas and oceans,” he added.

The law establishing the deposit system was approved by the Slovak parliament in 2019. The main objective of the legislation is to increase the collection rate of disposable beverage packaging and at the same time, reduce the amount of plastic waste in nature.

According to the ministry’s analyses, one billion plastic bottles and approximately 350 million beverage cans enter the Slovak market each year.

In 2019, the EU adopted the Directive on single-use plastics, which set a 77% separate collection target for plastic bottles by 2025 – increasing to 90% by 2029.

(Marián Koreň |

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