Latvia's packaging deposit system takes a step forward

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The implementation of the packaging deposit system is moving along. Entrepreneurs are signing contracts but are also concerned about the initial stages of the system when shops will have deposit-labeled and unlabeled packaging at the same time, Latvian Radio reported October 10.

Contracts with more than 250 companies have been signed for the management of the deposit packaging, representing approximately 80% of the total amount of packaging to be deposited in Latvia. Miks Stūrītis, Chair of the Board of the packaging management company, Depozīta iepakojuma operators, said that the first packages have also been registered in the system. The deposit system will be operational as of February 2022, but the managers are calling on beverage producers and importers not to delay the conclusion of contracts, since the registration of packaging and the necessary design changes may take time.

“We expect more than 5,000 different packages to be registered in Latvia in total. This means that packers must prepare labels with a deposit mark and also adjust the barcode. In most cases, barcode codes are small, but the deposit system requires the code to comply with the industrial standard,” said Stūrītis.

The Executive Director of the Latvian Alcohol Industry Association, Dāvis Vilks, said that most companies are preparing to introduce the system, but also worried about how market participants will be affected by the transition period in the first half of next year: “The challenge in this transitional period [will] be to indicate prices for traders for one item with a deposit fee and without it. By which date will traders be open to accepting this item without a deposit fee and what will their policies be? I think we will still talk to traders about this issue, and let us agree."

The transitional period will last until August next year. After August 1, however, drinks without the deposit labels will not be allowed to be sold. During the transitional period, customers will have to look for the deposit marks on the packaging.

The first 100 reverse vending machines have already been installed in individual shops and a total of around 800 of them are scheduled to be installed, as well as manual deposit points.

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