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Natural Mineral Waters Europe (NMWE), Minderoo Foundation, Reloop, UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe, and Zero Waste Europe have signed a joint letter warning that ambition surrounding the collection and recycling of beverage packaging could decline if the European Parliament adopts amendments overturning compulsory deposit refund systems (DRS) in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation.

The signatories gesture towards the initial proposal and the ENVI Committee report conducted in October, both of which highlight DRS as a key facet of a circular economy for beverage packaging. Countries with well-established DRS have reportedly reached collection rates of up to 95%, while more recent additions – including Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Malta – claim figures as high as 90%.

Member States that have not implemented a DRS are feared to miss their collection targets, the signatories say, raising France as an example. Although it has advocated against mandatory DRS, its 60% collection rate for PET bottles currently falls short of the 77% target laid out for 2025 by the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive.

The letter cautions that, if some Member States fail to implement well-performing collection schemes, it could impact wider recycling and recycled content targets across the EU.

As a result of these high collection rates, DRS have apparently provided high-quality food-grade recycled material ‘in a clean single stream’ – reducing demand for virgin materials, facilitating a closed-loop system for beverage containers, and taking steps towards the EU’s climate goals.

Consumers have also responded positively to DRS in surveys. Studies have indicated that 92% of French consumers are in favour of its implementation, and following its introduction in Slovakia, a previous figure of 83% rose to 89%.

As such, NMWE, The Minderoo Foundation, Reloop, UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe, and Zero Waste Europe assert that the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation should enforce mandatory DRS in every state, only providing exemptions when other EPR schemes achieve similar collection rates. They say that reversing the decision would uphold roadblocks in recycling and reuse and increase the amount of litter in the environment.

In another, previous statement, Elipso called for a single set of specifications and one waste management organization to roll out a mandatory DRS for plastic bottles in France – a move set to align with EU legislation.

Similarly, TOMRA foregrounded the adoption of DRS as an important asset in the realization of UNEP’s Global Plastics Treaty.

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