Slovakia’s DRS highlighted at RWM Letsrecycle Live

The RWM and Letsrecycle Live shows saw industry experts and officials speak about the latest issues in the sector, with the Slovak Minister of Environment, Jan Budaj, opening a session on Slovakia’s implementation of a deposit return scheme (DRS).

Lucia Morvai, the director of external affairs and communications at Deposit Return System Administrator, unravelled Slovakia's journey to implementation of the DRS

After introducing the session, Mr Budaj took a tour of the exhibition, looking at a variety of bins from exhibitors and finding out about food waste solutions.

The Slovak Ministry of Environment said he gained insight on how to decrease the amount of municipal waste ending up in landfill, including prevention of waste in the first place.

After Mr Budaj’s introduction, Lucia Morvai, the director of external affairs and communications at Deposit Return System Administrator, took over to unravel Slovakia’s journey towards implementation of the scheme.

Ms Morvai explained that the DRS was launched in Slovakia on 1 January 2022 after a “remarkably short implementation process”, with the country implementing the scheme a year after it was passed by parliament.

Environment Minister Jan Budaj was interested in bins and food waste solutions

Ms Morvai highlighted that since its launch at the beginning of the year, the DRS has collected 540 million plastic bottles and aluminium cans, which comprise 67% of those supplied to the market. The goal is to achieve 90% collection rate of beverage packaging by 2025, which is four years earlier than mandated by the European Union.

The rollout of the scheme was funded by the obliged industry of drinks producers and retailers and was implemented as a way of extending producer responsibility, Ms Morvai continued. The DRS continues to be funded from fees paid by producers, sale of the material and unclaimed deposits.

Scheme

Each container has a returnable deposit of €0.15, which is displayed separately to the price on the supermarket shelves. Consumers can return their packaging through reverse vending machines, found in most supermarkets or handheld scanners, which are mostly utilised by smaller businesses due to lack of space.

There are currently over 2,900 collections points, which see an average of 3.5 million containers returned daily.

Technology

In terms of technology, the Slovak DRS is powered by a solution from Sensoneo, a Slovakia-based digital waste management company. The solution integrates the data of all stakeholders, and executes all operations regarding registration, distribution, depositing and logistics in real time.

Sensoneo is a Slovak digital waste management company behind the country’s DRS solution

The lifecycle of each container is traceable from when it enters the market until it is returned in the form of recycled material for new bottles and cans, with operations including optimisation of transport routes and logistics to lower the carbon footprint.

Commenting on her experience of RWM and Letsrecycle Live, Ms Morvai said: “The exhibition was a great platform to share the experience of implementing the DRS in Slovakia, which is, I believe, truly valuable for countries that are currently in the stage of planning out their own nationwide system. Sharing knowledge is one of the ways we can support closing the loop and driving the transition toward a circular economy.”

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