93% OF BEVERAGE BOTTLES ARE RECYCLED IN FINLAND

Today in Finland, almost every bottle and can is recycled, while the average Finn returns 373 bottles a year. The first bottle recycling programs started in Finland in the 1950s. Today, there are almost 5,000 bottle return machines across Finland. Most of them are in shops and kiosks where drinks are sold.

While in Serbia there is still talk of introducing a deposit system for packaging, one country managed to recycle as much as 93% of drinking bottles. We are talking about Finland, whose system is attracting more and more attention from other countries that plan to reduce packaging waste.

It all started last century

It all started in the 50s of the last century, and today in Finland almost every bottle and can is recycled, while the average Finn returns 373 bottles a year. How? The key to success would be in one word – simplicity. Bottle vending machines are located in places where people buy drinks, the amount of the deposit is high enough to motivate consumers to return the packaging, and there is also a network of informal collectors that collects packaging in parks and public spaces, thus making cities clean.

In 2020, Finns returned more than two billion bottles and cans, which is 93% of the total amount sold in the country. According to the EU directive on single-use plastics, 90% of plastic drinking bottles must be recycled by 2029. Since Finland reached that goal a few years ago, this system is attracting more and more attention as a possible solution for other countries.

There are almost 5,000 bottle return machines across Finland

The first bottle recycling programs started in Finland in the 1950s. Today, there are almost 5,000 bottle return machines across Finland. Most are located in shops and kiosks where drinks are sold, making returning bottles a simple routine for consumers when they go shopping. Hotels, restaurants, offices, schools return bottles through their suppliers.

The deposit is between 10 and 40 cents, and the system covers bottled water, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in cans, glass bottles and bottles made of PET plastic.

Plastic bottles are worth between 20 and 40 cents depending on the size, cans 15 cents, and glass bottles from 10 to 40 cents.

Using the machine is simple, the machine sorts the bottles and issues a receipt, and the cashier returns the money based on the receipt. An important part of the system are unofficial collectors who buy bottles in parks and on the streets and thus contribute to the cleanliness of the city, especially after large outdoor celebrations.

State or companies?

One of the dilemmas of countries that are currently planning to introduce a deposit system is who should manage the process – the state or companies. In Finland, the work is entrusted to the private sector, the Palpa company owned by large beverage producers, while 200 other companies pay membership fees.

According to their data, the production of a new can from recycled aluminum requires only 5% of the energy needed to make a can from non-recycled raw materials, while making a new glass from recycled consumes 30% less energy compared to production from scratch.

E2 portal (Energy of the Balkans)


Source: E2 Portal by www.e2.rs.

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