Deposit system implementation in Latvia hits bumps along the way

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The package deposit system will start operating on February 1. Major retailers are obliged to enter into a contract for the introduction of the deposit system, and some 100 companies have not yet done so, Latvian Radio reported December 2.

As of February, there will be a total of 1,400 deposit packaging return points in Latvia: reverse vending machines and manual deposit points. At present, approximately 100 sales locations that are required to introduce deposit points in accordance with the requirements of the Packaging Law have not concluded contracts with the operator. These traders will be sent letters calling for contracts, but in February, the Environmental Service will already be able to apply fines.

“As of February, if these contracts are still not concluded, we will also prepare and send out executive orders for the imposition of fines. The law has set maximum penalty ceilings of €10 thousand. But our approach to imposing these financial sanctions is to divide traders by size and location,” said Laura Anteina, deputy director general of the State Environmental Service.

The manager of the Depozīta iepakojuma operators (Deposit Packaging Operator) Ltd added that some traders are cooperating, but the signing of contracts has yet to be done due to the challenges posed by the emergency. But some companies refuse to sign.

“There are a group of approximately 100 traders that we have now placed at the disposal of the State Environmental Service as an operator. They are traders who refuse to cooperate or hesitate without obvious reason to sign the contract. They are mostly individual partners of specific brand chains, which must set up the manual deposit packaging points mentioned,” said the representative of the packaging deposit operator, Miks Stūrītis.

Māris Kadiķis, representative of the network of shops 'Lats', confirmed that some of the members of the network have not yet signed contracts due to both the Covid-19 pandemic and some still have no idea how to technically implement the system in smaller rural shops.

“Covid, lack of time, stores had other problems. The owners were employed with employee vaccination control, police controls and an internal operational control system. This was a very difficult time for retailers, and this information on the deposit system came in parallel from the Latvian Traders Union. The main problem, perhaps, is that some haven't taken this information seriously enough and didn't have the sense of reality that it is. Also those who do not yet introduce the system lack information on how to organize it technically,” explained Kadiķis.

The deposit system will start work in Latvia in February. This means that unflattened empty plastic and glass bottles, as well as metal cans, will be able to be handed over to reverse vending machines or shop deposit points. For each package deposited, residents will be able to get back a deposit fee of 10 cents, which will also show up in the prices of the goods in question from February.

A total of 320 reverse vending machines are currently installed in Latvia and will continue to be installed until May. In the meantime, it is also necessary to ensure that packages are accepted manually from February. 149 contracts have been concluded for such manual points.

Implementation is not without trouble. The State Environmental Service predicts that the system will not be able to start smoothly, so there is also a transitional period. Stores will have drinks with a deposit mark and, respectively, with a 10-cent surcharge and without it.

“Inconvenience in the implementation of the system may arise. That is why this transitional period is set until 1 August of the following year,” Anteina said.

It was difficult to coordinate the setting-up of outdoor kiosks. "In Lithuania, on average, the coordination of such a kiosk takes two, three weeks. In Latvia, an agreement takes up to two months. And there are individual cases where even three months,” said Stūrītis.

In January, the operator of the new system will launch a campaign to further inform residents about how the system will work.

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