Is the future of waste deposits in Poland questionable? The costs are high

Luc Williams

Debate on the impact of the deposit system on the Polish waste management system

On Tuesday, a meeting was held at the PAP headquarters, organized by Law for Development Forum debate on impact deposit system on the local government waste management system. Most of the discussion participants were in favor of postponing the launch of the deposit system in Poland. In their opinion, they should come into force first provisions on extended producer responsibility (ROP). According to the regulations, the deposit system is to start on January 1, 2025.

Limited impact of the deposit system on municipal waste recycling and the costs of its implementation

Member of the Polish Chamber of Waste Management Krzysztof Gruszczyński argued that the deposit system would only slightly increase the level of waste recycling. It will concern only a fraction of the municipal waste stream generated annually in the country (13.5 million tons). As he explained, the deposit system for PET (plastic) bottles will apply to 200,000. tons of waste, i.e. only 1.5%. the total amount of waste. He added that currently 100,000 items are recycled annually. tons of PET bottles. In the case of metal cans – added the PIGO representative – the system will cover approx. 80,000. tone. The third element of the system will be reusable glass bottles.

According to Gruszczyński, in the case of PET bottles, deposits will increase the recycling of such waste by approx. 50-80 thousand. tons, which is from 0.4 to 0.6 percent. mass of municipal waste. The representative of PIGO pointed out that the currently required levels of recycling for cans are already being implemented, so deposits in this case will not have much significance.

Referring to the data of a consulting company Deloitte from 2017, Gruszczyński indicated that the introduction of the deposit system in Poland would cost between PLN 19 and 23 billion. The Chamber member estimated the annual costs of operating the system at approximately PLN 1 billion.

“The escape of cans from the municipal system is approximately PLN 600 million; PET bottles, the most profitable raw material, are estimated at between PLN 800 million and PLN 1.2 billion. The escape of DPRs is another PLN 300 million (DPR is a document confirming the recycling of packaging waste). We are talking about PLN 2 billion that will come out of the municipal system and go to the deposit system. This system will cost PLN 3 billion, which we will all have to pay for,” said a representative of the waste industry.

A call for the introduction of extended producer responsibility before the deposit system

In his opinion, as well as in the opinion of representatives of local government corporations, the ROP Act should come into force first, and the deposit system should complement it. Extended responsibility of producers means that those who place packaged products on the market bear financial and organizational responsibility related to the collection of products throughout their life cycle when they become waste. They also suggested postponing the start of the deposit system.

Concerns of local governments related to the effects of introducing a deposit system for municipalities

Maciej Kiełbus That Association of Polish Cities he emphasized that although the deposit system will affect municipalities' obligations related to recycling, the most valuable waste will be removed from the waste stream. He argued that the system would not reduce municipalities' waste-related costs. He warned that there is a risk that the deposit system may also affect the amount of garbage fees currently paid by residents.

Leszek Świątalski That Association of Rural Municipalities of the Republic of Poland he pointed out, referring to the provisions of the Act, that the deposit system creates an obligation to collect a deposit when purchasing a drink, but it will not be possible to return it to the customer everywhere. Pursuant to the current act, large stores with an area exceeding 200 square meters will be obligatory to be included in the system, which will have to collect empty packaging and return the deposit. Smaller establishments will be able to participate in the system voluntarily, although they will have to collect a deposit. Świętolski noted that in 1/4 of the communes in Poland there are no such large commercial establishments, and one recycling machine in the commune will not solve the problem.

The Deputy Minister of the Environment defends preparations for the introduction of a deposit system

Deputy Minister of Climate and Environment Anita Sowińska reminded that the Act on deposits came into force in 2023, and the system is “designed” to be launched at the beginning of 2025. According to the representative of the Ministry of Culture and Environment, the system will not cause chaos, but it will actually be necessary to learn how to use it, and the first year of validity of the deposit will be a transitional period.

She recalled that in the first year of the deposit system, there will be reduced substitute fees (a form of penalty) for entrepreneurs. She also pointed out that a delay in the entry into force of the system may pose a potential risk to State Treasury claims of business entities that are currently preparing for it. She appealed to us “not to talk about extending or postponing it (the deposit system – PAP), but how to introduce it effectively,” she emphasized. (PAP)

author: Michał Boroń


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