We are very pleased to see that in May 2018, the Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change have put forward a proposal for the Beverage Container Refund Scheme (BCRS), that is open for public consultation until the 30th of June.
This is one measure through which Malta is trying to reach it’s 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 (currently proposed to be 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), that are proposed to be installed at retailers with a minimum floor-space of 150m2. 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 are pleased that a deposit scheme will be implemented by the end of next year, but would want to see more ambitious proposals. The following are condensed points that we are putting forward as recommendations:
- For the scheme to be comprehensive it needs to include all possible beverage containers including wine, spirits, liquors, etc.
2. Extend the scheme to other packaging such as glass jars, plastic containers of food items that are not beverages (eg. vintages, syrups), and other plastic containers of liquid products such as washing up liquid, liquid soap that are also easily recycled.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. RVMs should be introduced at a higher density in localities in Malta were there is a more tourist activity.
6. Further incentive should be given to people who opt for refillable containers.
7. 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.
8. 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.
Our team at FoE Malta is currently putting together an official set of comments and recommendation that will be submitted to the Ministry. We would like your contribution and to send in your thoughts and comments, through the form below. You can find the public consultation documents here.