Law amendment may also make wine bottles returnable

Bottles of wine.
Bottles of wine. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Starting this summer, it should be possible to dispose of wine and spirit bottles in recycling machines if the Riigikogu can pass an amendment. Although Estonians are diligent in returning glass, the ever-tightening Euro directives are forcing officials to act.

"Currently, a bottle of juice can be brought back into the reverse vending machine, but if you have a bottle of champagne at home, it will not be accepted by the system," the ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

As nothing motivates people more than money, the Ministry of the Environment is planning to change the system of deposit pledges so that it would be possible to dispose of other glass containers in a reverse vending machine (RVM).

Kerli Rebane, advisor to the Department of Environmental Management at the environment ministry, said: "It is for strong and weak alcoholic beverages, such as vodka, cognac, whiskey or even wines and sparkling wine bottles. In addition, syrups and milk drinks."

While brewers are required to join the deposit system, vodka producers are not. In Rebane's opinion, there is no point in forcing them to join because, unlike other packages, glass bottles are already being taken to public glass containers diligently.

Kaupo Karba, CEO of Estonian Pandipak said this would seriously test capabilities. "If it was mandatory, the amount of glass would increase many times over and we are not sure whether we would be able to deal with it today and that is why a voluntary principle has been introduced," Karba said.

He sais he has repeatedly been asked why soup or jam jars could not be returned, but this could never happen for hygiene reasons.

"As a rule, beverage jars are empty after consumption, and a few drops of liquid remain in the jars, but if we look at soups, jams and everything else, then after consumption, there is quite a lot of food left, which would spoil in warm summer weather, which would mean that all of these reverse vending machine houses are going to be smelly places, "Karba explained.

If it becomes possible to dispense bottles of wine and vodka into RVMs, there will be fewer existing glass containers that have so far been paid for by alcohol producers.

Alder Harkmann, CEO of Estonian Packaging Circulation, said other packaging would probably be more expensive without an option to return bottles. "For us, fixed costs will remain the same, and if half of the glass revenue is lost, this missing portion should be distributed over other packaging," he noted.

The Liquor Producers Association said joining a pledge depends on handling fees and the technical capabilities of the RVMs.

Undersecretary of the Ministry of the Environment Kaupo Heinma told "Aktuaalne kaamera" there is no major problem with bottles going out of circulation in Estonia.

"We find less than 10 percent of the glass mixed with municipal waste. The majority ends up in the deposit system or in these green containers," Heinma said.

Although the ministry is still submitting the draft for approval, it is due to enter into force on July 5, as it is linked to several European Union directives coming into force. 


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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