Estonia: Prisma stores to start accepting returns of bottles without deposit labels

The bottle deposit-refund machines of retailer Prisma Peremarket in Estonia will start accepting for free all metal and plastic drink packaging the characteristics of which have been taught to the machine so it will be able to also recognize and accept bottles that do not have deposit labels on them.

“Millions of plastic bottles and metal cans that do not have a valid deposit label reach Estonia every year and tend to end their circle of life either in nature or in the thrash. This kind of packaging bought from abroad numbered an estimated 100 mln last year,” Kaupo Karba, head of package deposit system operator Eesti Pandipakend, said.

“Due to the configuration of bottle deposit-refund machines, these could not be accepted until now. Now, we have finally solved this situation in cooperation with Prisma and have also started collecting plastic and metal packaging without Estonian deposit labels and directing them to recycling regardless of the origin of the packaging,” Karba said.

In March, a pilot project of Eesti Pandipakend, Tomra Service and Prisma Peremarket was launched from which it appeared that people are happy to return packaging outside the Estonian deposit-refund system among their deposit labelled packaging without receiving a deposit sum for the foreign packaging.

Tonis Tomingas, member of the management of Prisma Peremarket AS responsible for waste management, said that the solution initiated by Prisma and developed in cooperation with Eesti Pandipakend and Tomra is the first of its kind in Estonia.

“Prisma, for its part, wants to offer all the possibilities for proper return of waste. It is already possible to bring one’s old batteries, smaller broken electronic devices and, of course, packaging to our hypermarkets. From now on, we will also have a convenient possibility for our customers of returning packaging without a deposit label through our bottle deposit-refund machine . We hope that Prisma customers will start taking advantage of this opportunity and will no longer throw away their non-labelled plastic bottles and cans as part of ordinary waste,” Tomingas said.

Thanks to this change, Eesti Pandipakend is hoping to collect at least 200,000 plastic bottles and metal cans per month, which would otherwise start polluting the Estonian nature.

The return of non-labelled packaging works exactly as the return of plastic bottles and cans with an Estonian deposit label, but those returning the packaging will not receive the deposit for the non-labelled packaging.

Due to the specifics of the handling of glass bottles, it is not currently possible to return non-labelled glass bottles to a machine but work to ensure that function is underway.

Eesti Pandipakend is a producer responsibility organization established in 2005 that is tasked with organizing the recycling of packagings sold by producers, importers and traders.

The Prisma Peremarket chain of hypermarkets owned by the Finnish S-Grupp has been in business in Estonia since 2000. The chain’s eight stores in Tallinn, Tartu and Narva employ a workforce of approximately 800 people.

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