Romania has joined a group of 13 other European countries that have a deposit return system for drink containers. The mechanism is mandatory for all manufacturers and traders who sell packaging included in the deposit refund system.
The Romanian deposit return system (DRS) is set to become the second-largest in Europe, and the world’s largest centralized national DRS by volume of containers, reverse vending machines producer TOMRA said. It will have 80,000 collection points.
The new scheme, launched on November 30, is seen covering over seven billion drink containers each year. The DRS in Romania is for all beverages except milk in single-use glass, plastic, and metal containers with 0.1 to three liters in volume.
The consumers receive a refund in cash or in the form of a voucher
According to TOMRA, under the deposit return system, the consumer pays a deposit of 0.50 RON (EUR 0.10) when purchasing an eligible, labeled drink. After consumption, consumers can bring the empty container to an automated or manual return point at retailer locations, where they receive a refund in cash or in the form of a voucher.
The containers can be returned to all stores that sell eligible beverage containers, the firm explained.
The implementation of the deposit refund system will help Romania achieve its commitments within the European Union regarding collection and recycling. Targets for plastic bottles include a separate collection rate of 77% by 2025 and 90% by 2029, TOMRA added.
Environment minister Mircea Fechet: Romanias’a DRS is the second-largest in Europe, trailing only Germany
The deposit return system was officially inaugurated by Senate President Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă, Minister of Environment, Water and Forests Mircea Fechet, State Counselor in the Prime Minister’s Office Mihaela Frasineanu, CEO of RetuRO Gemma Webb and General Manager of TOMRA Collection Romania Dorin Mihai. Returo is the system administrator of the deposit program.
The launch event was held at retail store La Cocos in the capital Bucharest.
Minister Mircea Fechet said Romania’s’ deposit refund system is the second-largest in Europe, trailing only Germany.
The country’s collection rate is at 12% to 13% while the target for 2026 is 90%
“We all want the system to transform our country from landfill country to recycling country. At the same time, I want this project to be a legacy that we leave to our children, as a message, as an attitude, as a point beyond which there is no turning back in terms of valuing nature,” he added.
According to Fechet, the country’s collection rate is at 12% to 13%, while the target for 2024 is 65%, compared to 80% for 2025 and 90% for 2026.
RetuRO, the administrator, said it would open 17 centers in the next year, where it would transport the beverage packaging collected from approximately 80,000 merchants.
Mihai: Deposit return system brings opportunities for retailers
General Manager of TOMRA Collection Romania Dorin Mihai said many stakeholders such as retailers and beverage producers have been involved and consulted in bringing the deposit return system to life.
“Accessibility and ease of use are crucial for consumers when returning containers – a valuable insight for retailers in planning their container return facilities. The fact that so many consumers in existing deposit markets use the deposit to pay for groceries in the same store where they return containers also highlights the business opportunities that a deposit return system can bring for retailers,” Mihai added.
87% of recyclers use their deposit refund to pay for purchases in the same store where they return containers
According to TOMRA’s 2023 consumer research study, 87% of recyclers use their deposit refund to pay for purchases in the same store where they return containers. The main motivation for returning containers is to reclaim the deposit (76% of respondents), followed by environmental concerns (59%), and keeping the home tidy (44%).
When choosing a store to return containers, a well-functioning reverse vending solution was considered the third most important factor – even more important than easy parking.
TOMRA Collection Romania, part of TOMRA Group, is providing reverse vending machine (RVM) infrastructure to retailers of all sizes. The company has approximately 82,000 units installed in more than 60 markets, collecting over 45 billion used beverage containers per year on a global scale.