The Association of the Greek Manufacturers of Packaging and Materials (AGMPM) and ourselves are calling for the Greek Government to implement a non-profit deposit return scheme (DRS) to give Greece the best chance of reaching new recycling targets in the EU Single Use Plastic (SUP) and Packaging and Packaging Waste Directives.

The SUP Directive will require Greece to collect 90% of single-use beverage containers for recycling by 2029, while the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive mandates that 55% of plastic packaging by weight is collected by 2030.

A public consultation on new legislation outlining how Greece will transpose the requirements of the Directives into Greek law is set to launch next week, and a DRS has been put forward as one of the key elements of a complementary Greek recycling system.

DRS, which see a financial deposit added to the price of a beverage container which can be redeemed upon to return of that container to a recycling point, are used successfully in other countries around the world, achieving collection rates of over 90% with very low levels of material loss due to the high quality of material collected. DRS also contribute to greatly reduced levels of marine litter and the financial and environmental costs associated with it.

We held a webinar with AGMPM on 20 May to discuss the basics of a DRS in the Greek context. You can view the full video here. The panellists recommended that Greece should implement a sustainable DRS with the following features:

  • Run as a single, not-for-profit system owned and managed by obligated industries;
  • Clear and concise legislation outlining minimum return rates, minimum deposit fee level and stakeholder obligations;
  • Transparent rules for the Retailers Handling Fee and Industry Fee;
  • Right level of deposit (balance) – high enough to motivate consumers to return, at the same time low enough not to motivate fraud; and
  • Controlling measures on sales, returns and collection to tackle fraud;

Dimitris Mandis, Chairman of AGMPM, said: “We believe that the most critical phase for the implementation of a DRS is the designing phase. The Ministry of Environment should call not ony the stakeholders but also top experts around Europe in order not only to select  the proper tools for the Greek region but also to fine tune all the critical parameters, since our target is a well-operating system protecting the local market and prohibiting any fraudulent activities.”

Head of the Eunomia Athens office Hara Xirou added: “It is essential to design a sustainable DRS in Greece on all single-use beverage containers that draws from successful EU practices and requires those deposit systems to be inclusive by material and size, centred on return to retail, and as accessible as possible to the public.”

Featured Image: Thad Zajdowicz via Flickr (CC0 1.0)