RIGA - Development of a deposit refund system in Latvia would require setting up 3,000 reverse vending machines, which would cost retailers EUR 78 million and do major damage to small local retailers, Latvian Merchants Association's President Henriks Danusevics told LETA.
The Green Liberty organization earlier this week held a seminar about the deposit refund systems in Estonia and Lithuania, and offered setting up 750 reverse vending machines in Latvia that could cost EUR 20 million. However, the Merchants' Association believes that this number would be insufficient as stores without such machines would lose clients to their rivals. Therefore about 3,000 machines would be needed in Latvia.
Alternative waste sorting opportunities in the regions will also have to be considered, as setting up reverse vending machines in small stores may be too costly.
The total cost of developing the deposit refund system in Latvia is currently estimated at about EUR 30 million. However, judging from Estonia's experience, this cost will have to be covered by retailers, said Danusevics.
Introduction of the deposit refund system will mean extra costs to not only retailers, but also their customers, said Danusevics. Consumers will feel the impact of the deposit refund system once the prices of beverages increase in stores, while waste management costs will increase 5 percent to 10 percent. Latvian beverage producers and distributors will be faced with potential losses, as the higher prices will affect residents' purchasing power.
According to Danusevics, Scandinavian suppliers of the reverse vending machines are the only ones who will benefit from a deposit refund system in Latvia. At the same time, the Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry has still not presented its opinion of what effect the deposit refund system would have on the national economy of Latvia, said Danusevics.