To select or to return?

By: trademagazin Date: 2007. 02. 28. 08:00

The Ministry for the Protection of the Environment is trying to do something about people who throw away plastic bottles used for packaging drinks. It is questionable if a German-style general system of returnable bottles can be used in Hungary where selective and refillable systems are operated side by side. The ministry is planning to introduce a fee to be charged for the use of non-reusable bottles and cans in the middle of the next year. This fee should be an incentive for customers to return these instead of putting them in rubbish bins. Resistance to the idea is great. Food manufacturers says that such a system would mean the end of the selective system of waste collection. An average household produces 460 kilograms of rubbish per head annually, while food consumption is between 700 and 800 kilograms per head. Though the weight of rubbish produced has not changed for years, its volume has increased by 50 per cent as a result of using non-refillable packaging. The size of rubbish heaps could be significantly reduced by simply stepping on plastic bottles or metal cans before putting them in the rubbish bins. Since coloured rubbish containers have been introduced for the selective collection of rubbish three years ago, the amount of rubbish collected this way has grown from 4 thousand tons to 50 thousand tons. This option for collecting rubbish is available to 4,5 million people at the moment. Food manufacturers and retailers agree that we should wait to see how well the selective system can perform before replacing it with another concept. The new system of charging a fee and returning this fee when bottles are returned would kill the selective system. According to estimates, the introduction of such a new system would require an investment of HUF 10 billion from retailers. The Ministry wants to reduce the quantity of rubbish thrown away in public places, but this may not be the best method, though we would all be required to pay the related costs.

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