As of 1 October 2022, Romanian consumers will have to pay a mandatory deposit of RON 0.50 (approx. ten Euro cents) for each bottled beverage they buy. Part of the recently introduced deposit-return system ("DRS"), this amount will be added to the shelf price of the respective beverage and will be distinctly marked on receipts. This legislative novelty has been introduced by Government Decision No. 1074/2021 on the establishment of a deposit-return system on single-use packaging ("GD 1074/2021").
The deposit will be applicable to non-refillable primary packaging made of glass, plastic or metal, with volumes between 0.1l and 3l inclusive, containing water, juice or alcoholic beverages. To implement the new legislative provisions, these containers will be marked with a distinctive symbol and a special barcode.
How will the DRS work?
For the management of the DSR, a joint stock company will be incorporated with the sole purpose of implementing, managing, operating and financing the DRS (the "DRS Administrator"). This company's shareholders will be associations of beverages producers/importers with a market share of at least 30 % and the Romanian state (represented by its central environmental protection authority), which will own 20 % of the shares. Other suitable shareholders are represented by associations of retailers that import and sell products relevant to the new regulations on the national market.
Producers and retailers will have an obligation to register with the DRS, according to the procedure to be established by the DRS Administrator and to contract with the DRS Administrator in order to meet their obligations under the new rules.
Producers/importers will be obliged to collect the deposit from their clients and to pay it to the DRS Administrator by the 25th day of the month following the month in which the packaged products are placed on the market. In addition, producers/importers will also have to pay the DRS Administrator an administration fee based on the material, weight and usable volume, but also by reference to the total DRS operational expenses allocated to the producers/importers pro rata with the amount of DRS packaging placed on the market.
Along the supply chain, retailers will have to collect the deposit from their clients, down to end consumers.
New obligations for retailers
All retailers selling beverages bottled in DRS packaging to end consumers (stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets) will have to establish return points for the collection of DRS packaging. Retailers whose commercial premises are smaller than 200 m2 will be allowed to either partner with other retailers in their proximity having sales structures of less than 200 m2 in order to establish joint return points or they will be able to enter into agreements with local municipalities in which they operate or with inter-community development associations. In any case, return points may not be located further than 150 m2 from the actual retail space.
Consumers or end users will be able to return the DRS packaging at any return point organised on the territory of Romania, even if the packaged products were not purchased from the retailer who organised the return point. For each DRS packaging returned, the consumer or end user will be refunded the deposit amounting to RON 0.5, without the acceptance of the DRS packaging being conditional upon presentation of the receipt.
Retailers who only make their products bottled in DRS packaging available on the national market exclusively via online platforms are not obliged to organise return points.
Companies active in the HoReCa sector will be obliged to charge the deposit from their customers only for products in DRS packaging consumed outside their commercial premises (for instance, for delivery/ to-go products). If these products are consumed on the commercial premises, the HoReCa company will not have to charge the deposit for DRS packaging. Moreover, these companies are not obliged to set up return points.
Companies operating return points will be entitled to receive a fee for the management thereof, which will be paid by the DRS Administrator for each piece of DRS packaging. This management fee will be established based on a computation methodology to be determined by means of an order issued by the Ministry of the Environment, Waters and Forests. It will be differentiated by waste collection type (i.e. manual or automated).
Failure to comply with the obligations set forth by GD 1074/2021 will be sanctioned by a fine of RON 4,000 (approx. EUR 800) to RON 50,000 (approx. EUR 10,000). In addition, failure to register in the DRS can be sanctioned by temporary shutdown of the company's business.
What's the goal?
The DRS should help improve the collection rate for recyclable waste. To this end, the collection goals set by the new rules are ambitious. Thus, producers, via the DRS Administrator, are obliged to meet the following minimum yearly targets for the return of DRS packaging:
- 65 % glass, 65 % plastic, 65 % metal between 1 October 2022 and 31 December 2022;
- 65 % glass, 65 % plastic, 65 % metal for 2023;
- 75 % glass, 80 % plastic, 80 % metal for 2024;
- 85 % glass, 90 % plastic, 90 % metal, as of 2025.
In the first year of the new rules, the RON 0.50 deposit will apply irrespective of the type of DRS packaging. As of 1 October 2023, the DRS Administrator will be entitled to ask the Ministry of the Environment, Waters and Forests to amend the value of this deposit, also allowing for differentiated values for various types of packaging and materials.