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Will Slovakia switch to returnable plastic bottles?

Inhabitants of Slovakia use an estimated one billion PET bottles per year.

(Source: Jozef Jakubčo, Sme)

Storing returnable glass bottles at home and bringing them back to the shop used to be, and for many still is, a daily routine in Slovak households. People seem to be less inclined to do so with plastic bottles.

Every year, each inhabitant of Slovakia throws away about 200 PET bottles on average. About 400 million of these bottles end up in municipal waste or in nature. The Environment Ministry has been pondering a scheme for the deposit return of plastic bottles.

“The Environment Ministry is working on a study on how much it would cost and how it would influence the waste system,” the press department of the Environmental Ministry explains to The Slovak Spectator.

Up to one billion bottles

More than 34,000 tonnes of PET bottles enter the Slovak market every year, according to the estimates of the Institute of Environmental Policy (IEP) running under the Environment Ministry.

The institute admits that estimates of the number of PET bottles that enter the market differ. While foreign and Slovak research agencies and associations estimate the number between 530 and 830 million, preservationists say that it is about 1.5 billion.

Official reports talk of only about 774 million bottles, IEP stated. The IEP’s estimate is based on municipal waste data from 2016. About 10,000 tonnes of PET bottles end up in municipal waste. Another 2,500 tonnes are in the waste from street cleaning. Moreover, waste in nature and rivers could involve dozens or maybe hundreds of tonnes of PET bottles.

“Together it is almost one billion bottles per year,” IEP stated.

Return on deposit?

The deposit return of bottles may help bring about a higher recycling percentage. IEP held the questionnaire on social networks, where 95 percent voted for the deposit return of plastic bottles as well as cans.

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