In Italy, the green-field introduction of a Deposit Return System (DRS) for recycling would represent a duplication of economic and environmental costs. Indeed, such DRS would replace and not complement traditional, separate collection systems of beverage packaging. A note which stated the above was recently sent by CONAI, the National Packaging Consortium, to the Italian Institutions, in view of the upcoming publication of the proposal for a Regulation on packaging and packaging waste, expected by end of November.
In a Member State like Italy, who already has an efficient and effective separate collection system to valorise packaging (with up to 7 of 10 packaging recycled), DRS would not represent an suitable solution, as explained by CONAI.
Indeed, such potential establishment would require the widespread distribution of about 100,000 Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) throughout the country, for an initial investment of about €2.3 billion, and operational costs of about €350 million per year. Moreover, based on what has been done in other European countries, the implementation of a fully functioning IT system to manage the resulting deposit, could entail an additional investment of between €500 million and €1 billion.
In addition to the above, DRS would force companies to bear additional costs linked to the need to adopt a dedicated but expensive labelling system in order to reduce the risk of frauds.
A concrete example on the implications of what DRS would have in Italy concerns PET liquid containers. In this case, one tonne could be worth around €10,000 for deposit labels alone, which is 10 times higher than the value of the material.
Instead, as CONAI points out, with the development of adequate selective collection, future recycling targets for packaging materials could be achieved on time and in a more efficient way.
According to CONAI, the introduction of selective collection alongside separate collection could be the solution in order to reach the 2029 EU-wide packaging collection target – i.e. 70,000 tonnes. Indeed, as stated by the Italian Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO), such packaging volume would be captured through enhanced separate collection, complemented by specific, selective collection in areas and contexts with greater risks of littering, without however negatively impacting on the rest of the packaging waste management system. Initial investment would require up to €270 million and operational costs of less than €30 million per year.
This would therefore entail 10 times less costs than those required for the green-field implementation of a DRS system for recycling.
For more information about CONAI recycling results: https://www.conai.org/download/specific-prevention-and-management-plan-for-packaging-and-packaging-waste-english-version/