A year of deposit system in Latvia

Take note – story published 1 year and 3 months ago

On February 1, a year passes since the beverage packaging deposit system started operations in Latvia, but owners of small shops networks are still facing difficulties, especially problems with storage space, industry representatives told Latvian Radio's broadcast Kā labāk dzīvot?  on January 31.

According to the results of the study conducted in October 2022, the deposit system is an increasingly stable part of daily life, with 93% of households using the deposit system. Overall, the system works well, with the exception of deposit points in small rural shops, as claimed by the traders themselves.

"When introducing a deposit system, I believe that the peculiarities of rural shops were not taken into account in principle. It was decided that containers should be accepted in all rural shops with an area of not less than 60 square meters. [..] It was a very big challenge for us, and it is still, because there is very little space in shops of 60 square meters for containers, " said Raimonds Okmanis, head of the Latvian Traders' Association and representative of the Lats shop network.

A minimum of additional 16 square meters is needed to accept, sort, and store the container in small rural shops, Okmanis estimated.

Okmanis, as a solution to the problem, proposes to change the conditions of the deposit system by introducing changes that only shops at least 300 square meters are required to accept containers and the others have free choice to do so.

Miks Stūrītis, Chairman of the deposit package operator (DIO) board, objected to such a solution, explaining that it would have a significant impact on the possibility of returning containers for residents in rural areas.

“Compared to other European countries, these 60 square meters are [..] a high threshold, it is only Latvia and Lithuania. In Estonia they are 40 square meters, in Finland, and Norway, it is the first square meter. In Ireland, where the deposit system will be introduced next year, and in Austria, where the system will start in 2025, it is also the first square meter,” said Stūrītis.

"At the moment, the law provides that traders can form joint return points, and we have examples like this when a joint kiosk can be put down by a number of traders joining and cooperating. From the beginning, there is a kiosk, where three different traders have joined together, and people choose, where they receive a voucher, at which store they are shopping," Stūrītis said.

In mid-December, over 200 million packages had been transferred to the deposit system. 

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