Deposit return scheme for drink container recycling seeks to combat plastic waste and pollution

Romania prepares for deposit return system

Image of consumer and retailer at reverse vending machine

Romania is on a rapidly approaching deadline to launch its deposit return system in October 2022 (in accordance with Government Decision 1074/2021), to align with the targets of the European Union’s Single-Use Plastics Directive and to tackle beverage container pollution.

Plastic and other packaging pollution has become pervasive worldwide. In Europe alone, more than 25 million tons of plastic waste are generated every year, yet less than 30% of such waste is collected or recycled. The Single-Use Plastics Directive requires member states to separately collect 77% of single-use plastic bottles with caps and lids by 2025, with an ultimate target of 90% by 2029.  

New rules for recycling beverage containers in Romania: plastic, glass or metal

Experts say it will be difficult to impossible to achieve the targets of the Single-Use Plastics Directive without a deposit return system in place, and these systems are also an effective way to address beverage container waste and litter. In October 2021, the Romanian government approved a decision regulating the deposit return system for single-use primary packaging, according to which consumers will pay a 0.50 RON deposit when they buy beverages from retailers. Consumers will receive their deposit back when they bring the empty beverage containers to one of the return points for recycling. Romania’s deposit return system will cover single-use beverage packaging in glass, plastic or metal, with volumes between 0.1 and 3 liters.

Producers, importers, distributors and retailers are preparing for the changes to their operations. TOMRA, the leading global company in reverse vending technology for deposit return systems, is ready to help Romanian retailers and other stakeholders as they prepare for the upcoming deposit system. TOMRA opened an office in Romania in 2021 and already has a national service network ready to support stakeholders who will operate the return points.

“In Romania we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change the direction and to learn from what has already been successfully tested and implemented in other countries. Retailers, manufacturers and local public authorities can make the deposit return system a success story by adopting proven practices and best-in-class technology,” says Dorin Mihai, General Manager of TOMRA Romania.

The first TOMRA machines were installed in Romania starting in 2012 to support a voluntary project and since then have collected more than half a billion (571 million) plastic bottles, 63 million aluminium cans and 34 million glass bottles.

Deposit return systems proven to increase collection worldwide

Deposit return systems have already proven to be highly efficient: for example, the European average collection rate for plastic beverage bottles in countries without a deposit is 47%, whereas European countries with deposit systems collect 94% of eligible plastic beverage bottles. 

Steps in a deposit return system
A number of states or countries have committed to update existing deposit return systems or develop new systems. Germany is the recycling world champion, with its deposit return system for recycling empty drink containers achieving a 98% return rate for eligible containers, the highest in the world. Denmark is also a recycling high achiever, with a return rate of 92%. 

TOMRA has reverse vending installations in more than 40 deposit markets across the globe, and a long history of reverse vending innovation: from inventing the world’s first fully automated reverse vending machine, to pioneering the first 360-degree instant recognition system for containers, to the first Internet of Things (IoT) platform and consumer app for reverse vending. 

The Norwegian company has over 80,000 reverse vending machines, capturing over 40 billion used beverage containers worldwide each year. 

About TOMRA Collection:

Founded in 1972, TOMRA provides reverse vending solutions for Clean Loop Recycling, collecting aluminium, plastic and glass beverage containers to be continually reused and recycled back into new bottles and cans. With approximately 80,000 reverse vending machines across more than 60 markets, TOMRA captures over 40 billion used beverage containers every year toward a closed loop. This reduces reliance on raw materials, and ensures fewer containers end up in our streets, oceans and landfills. TOMRA’s reverse vending machines, digital solutions and service make recycling easy for the industry, system owners, retailers and consumers to contribute to a more sustainable planet. Visit our Reverse Vending pages on, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

TOMRA Collection is part of the TOMRA Group, which creates sensor-based solutions for optimal resource productivity, and has a vision to lead the Resource Revolution. The Group employs approximately 4600 people globally and is publicly listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange (OSE: TOM).