Strong alcohol bottles not reaching recycling machines

Bottle recycling point.
Bottle recycling point. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Wine and spirit bottles have a low recycling rate in Estonia and producers cannot be forced to join the scheme despite a change to the law a year ago.

Many bottles containing strong alcohol were not initially included in the recycling scheme when it first launched due to their irregular shape as machines were designed for round bottles.

Newer machines can now cope with differently shaped bottles but uptake is low, Friday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

Triin Kalinin, CEO of the Union of Alcohol Producers and Importers, said joining the scheme is expensive and costs are higher than with other recycling systems.

Additionally, as a unique barcode must be added to bottles, this limits possibilities for export to countries such as Latvia and Finland.

It also creates problems for manufacturers outside of Estonia and importers, as many countries do not use the same system, said Kaupo Karba, CEO of Eesti Pandipakendi.

"It is difficult for importers to explain this to the original manufacturer, who is located somewhere in South Africa or France," he said.

Karba also echoed Kalinin and said one of the biggest burdens is the additional indirect costs related to the scheme.

The Ministry of the Environment does not plan to make joining the deposit system mandatory.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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