Friends of the Earth Malta is very pleased to see that finally the Beverage Container Refund Scheme (BCRS) will be implemented as of the 14th of November 2022.
This is one measure through which Malta will hopefully reach its recycling targets. In a nutshell, the bottle refund scheme will require certain beverage containers placed on the market in Malta to have a specific barcode. When a consumer purchases a beverage from any commercial establishment, a deposit of 10c will be charged. To reclaim the deposit fee, the consumer will need to return the containers to one of the Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs),which have been installed at selected shops and also at public recycling hubs . These Reverse Vending Machines can be fed the purchased containers and will refund the deposit fee if the container has the specific barcode.
Friends of the Earth Malta hopes that with time the system is fine tuned and that its recommendations are also taken on board:
- For the scheme to be comprehensive it needs to include all possible beverage containers including wine, spirits, liquors, etc.
- Extend the scheme to other packaging such as glass jars, plastic containers of food items that are not beverages (eg. vinegar, syrups), and other plastic containers of liquid products such as washing up liquid, liquid soap that are also easily recycled.
- Deposit for each bottle should be more then 10c. A rate of 25c for container is more adequate since it will increase return rates of containers. Unclaimed deposits should be centrally managed by government as part of an environmental fund.
- RVMs should be introduced in every locality to ensure accessibility, especially for people with limited mobility. An alternative that can be considered are school, local councils or other government premises.
- RVMs should be introduced at a higher density in localities in Malta were there is a more tourist activity.
- Further incentive should be given to people who opt for refillable containers.
- All places that do have RVMs should also have a recycling bin next to the machines to ensure that container brought by consumers that are not eligible for the return scheme, will still end up in the intended waste stream.
- Criminal offence fines proposed (especially those on the lower spectrum) may not be sufficient to prevent businesses not placing beverage without the barcode on the market. To ensure that the fines are effective, they should be coupled with the number of beverage containers placed on the market and also ensure that more rigorous actions are taken if an offender commits the same criminal offence more than once.