Estonia removes cash deposit returns on imported drink bottles

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Estonia's government is making it harder to claim back cash deposits on imported drink bottles as the country faces rising imports from booze cruises to neighboring Latvia, reports the BBC via ERR. 

The Eesti Pandipakend recycling authority from 1 January only accepts bottles and cans marked with special barcodes and deposit stamps proving that the containers and their contents were not sold outside Estonia, reported Estonia's ERR.

Peeter Eek, the head of waste disposal at the environment ministry, says the move is prompted by a "sharp rise" in drink imports from Latvia, where customers pay far less in alcohol duties.

"The Estonian system has hitherto been very open. If you bought something in Latvia you didn't pay our recycling fee, but we still returned the deposit to you as the stamp was one and the same. For the consumer, it was like winning the lottery," he told ERR.

Finns and Estonians routinely visit Latvia's border towns with the goal of stocking up on booze. Bus operators are even offering direct routes from Tallinn port to alcohol stores on the Latvian part of the border.

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