The latest study conducted by TOMRA in March 2022 about the deposit return (DRS) system in Slovakia unveils a slew of good news about the new deposit system in Slovakia. Since its launch on 1 January 2022, already more than 84.5% of Slovak respondents have returned their beverage containers at least once, the survey shows. This number is even higher among younger respondents; of those under 18, a commendable 95.7% has returned their containers, and 89.4% of those aged between 18 and 29 participated in the DRS.
Awareness and satisfaction are key
The overall high level of participation correlates with the degree of awareness of the new system, which reached a whopping 99.2% among the survey respondents. 94.4% of Slovak consumers are aware of a reverse vending machine (RVM) in their neighborhood for returning their containers, whereas only 4% are yet to see an RVM in their neighborhood. This is set to improve throughout the year, with the upcoming installation of RVMs (known locally as “zalohomats”) in smaller cities and villages.Arguably, even more important than consumer awareness is consumer satisfaction. This too remains high, with younger respondents being the most satisfied – not one person under 18 was clearly dissatisfied with the DRS, the study shows. Seniors adapted well to the new system as well, with 63.6% of people over 60 reporting satisfaction. Overall, 60.1% of Slovaks are satisfied with the deposit system in Slovakia.
“Rising curve of collection suggests we could meet our target goals”
High awareness and satisfaction are reflected in the collection numbers. All is progressing well, according to Lucia Morvai, Communications and PR Director of non-profit organization “Správca zálohového systému, n.o.” (the deposit return system Central System Administrator), which is responsible for creating, financing, and coordinating the deposit return system in Slovakia. “The system became fully operational in February, after a short transition period at the beginning of the year. Since then, we have collected more than 100 million PET bottles and cans (by the end of April 2022). In Slovakia, more than 2 million containers are deposited daily, and we expect that number to grow to 3 million by summer, which would mean meeting and in fact exceeding our target goals.”
Today, Slovakia has 2300 collection points, including 1800 with an RVM. “The deposit return system has been in operation for four months and a rising curve of collection suggests we could meet our target goals, that is, 60% of beverage containers being collected by the end of 2022. The Single-Use Plastics Directive sets the target goal at 90% of beverage containers being collected by 2029 and it looks like we could reach those numbers by 2025, four years earlier, and lead European ambitions,” adds Lucia Morvai.
Responsible consumers lead the change
High collection numbers are only made possible by diligent consumers. The recent TOMRA survey shows that more than half of Slovaks deposit their beverage containers at least once a week. Interestingly, 30.4% of Slovaks under 18 deposit their containers daily.
Most (57.3 %) choose to wait for the containers to accumulate in their household before returning them, while one third of those surveyed return them each time they go shopping. In addition, if consumers do not have sufficient opportunities to join the deposit return system in the store they usually frequent, or they are not satisfied with that store’s recycling experience, they look for a different store that better suits their needs. 10% of respondents already choose a different store than the one they usually shop at to return their bottles and another 5.3 % are considering doing so in the future. These findings show that Slovaks are more than willing to change their habits and accommodate the DRS.
Slovak deposit return system at a glance
The deposit return system is a modern means of Extended Producer Responsibility, which, through the collection of disposable beverage containers, involves everyone in the fight for environmental protection and against free-flowing waste.
The Slovak deposit system was launched on 1 January 2022. All single-use plastic beverage bottles and cans with a capacity from 0.1 L up to and including 3 L are eligible. Deposit bottles and cans are marked with a Z symbol in recycling arrows and the text "ZÁLOHOVANÉ". PET bottles and cans of beverages such as mineral water, sweetened drinks, fruit juices, iced teas, energy drinks, beer, wine, or mixed alcoholic beverages can be deposited. The deposit amount is 15 eurocents both for PET bottles and cans. Deposit containers must be returned to a collection point without residual liquids, uncompressed, with the lid on and with a readable barcode. They can be returned at any marked collection point, regardless of where they were purchased. Shops collect deposit containers via reverse vending machines and in smaller shops using a hand-held scanner, e.g. at the checkout. A map of collection points is available here.