Greener Slovakia or Burden to Entrepreneurs?
Slovakia has launched a new mandatory system for single use beverage packaging. The new legislation is inspired by other European countries, where this system is well-established. For many years, it has successfully helped to reduce waste from the streets, CO2 emissions and to facilitate waste separation.
The majority of beverages packed in single use packaging is charged 15 Eurocents per can or bottle. This amount serves as a deposit, which will be returned in full to the consumer after return of the packaging. The beverage packaging is marked with a “Z” and the inscription “ZÁLOHOVANÉ” (in English “DEPOSIT”). The cans and plastic bottles must not be creased, must have a lid and legible packaging on return. The automatic deposit machine will otherwise not recognise the returned packaging.
Once the packaging is duly recognized, the machine sorts it and issues a voucher for 15 Eurocents to the consumer. This voucher can be either exchanged for money or used as a discount on the purchase in the store, in which the packaging was returned.
Until June 30, 2022, consumers will still be able to buy beverages with unmarked packaging that needs to be separated in compliance with the commonly known (old-school) separation rules.
Entrepreneurs who sell beverages to consumers in stores with an area of at least 300 square meters are mandatorily part of the deposit system. Smaller stores can join the deposit system voluntarily. The involvement of most smaller stores is expected, as the possibility of returning packaging will attract more customers who would otherwise return packaging in larger stores.
The most important obligations imposed on entrepreneurs:
- a deposit machine must be located in the store or within a distance of 150 meters from such store. Smaller stores do not need to have machines (hand-held scanners used by the shop-assistants will be sufficient).
- the amount of deposit as part of the purchase price must be indicated on every price label,
- separate accounting records of deposits shall be kept,
- each entrepreneur shall register itself as a collection point for waste resulting from beverage packaging and keep records of returned packaging etc.
Nevertheless, the deposit system does not include all beverage packaging. For example, packaging bought abroad, provided/sold to passengers within international transport, packaging technically incapable to deposit and packaging for milk, milk drinks, syrups and certain alcoholic beverages are excluded from the deposit system. We consider the newly introduced act quite ambitious. Practical experience will show whether the good intentions of the legislator will be realized as intended.
JUDr. Zuzana Tužilová / Mgr. Veronika Kvašňovská