On Tuesday, 1 February, the beverage packaging deposit system was officially launched in Riga at the deposit system's outdoor kiosk at 20A Andreja Saharova Street. The opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development Artūrs Toms Plešs, Minister of Agriculture Kaspars Gerhards, Minister of Economy Jānis Vitenbergs, Director General of the State Environmental Service Elita Baklāne-Ansberga and Miks Stūrītis, Chairman of the Board of SIA “Depozīta Iepakojuma Operators”. Representatives of ministries and responsible authorities handed over the first deposit containers in a reverse vending machine, thus launching the Latvian deposit system. The deposit system was also launched in other Latvian cities - Daugavpils, Liepāja and Rūjiena.
Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Artūrs Toms Plešs, explains: “The introduction of the deposit system is one of the most ambitious environmental developments to date and a giant leap towards more sustainable, greener and responsible consumption. Until now, plastic bottles, cans and glass containers have often been considered waste, but today we are putting a bold end to that by returning a large proportion of beverage packaging to the production and consumption chain to be reused and prevent further environmental pollution. I have been working on this reform since the first day I was elected to the Saeima and then started to coordinate the process in the Ministry, so today I feel particularly pleased with the work that has been done over these four years. I would like to say a special thank you to my colleagues at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development and the State Environmental Service who have worked tirelessly to make the deposit system see the light of day in Latvia!”
“Today, I would like to highlight in particular the contribution of beverage producers to the establishment of a modern and consumer-friendly deposit system in Latvia. The industry's investment, worth millions in setting up the deposit system, adapting products and maintaining the system, is an example of a change in thinking, embedding the principles of the circular economy. The aim of all these investments, which are worth millions, is to make Latvia's environment cleaner. So it is our job as consumers to seize this opportunity for a cleaner and greener Latvia!” says Minister of Agriculture Kaspars Gerhards.
“The public has been waiting for the implementation of the deposit system for more than 20 years. We are finally on the list of countries that will recycle drink containers in an economically sound and environmentally friendly way. When I was still chairing the Saeima National Economy Commission, the draft law on the deposit system was one of the hottest topics of discussion, but together with my colleagues we managed to prepare it in less than a year and also reach an agreement on a faster start-up of the deposit system. I am convinced that with the introduction of the deposit system, less and less waste will end up in forests, ditches and lake shores,” explains Minister of the Economy Jānis Vitenbergs.
Elita Baklāne-Ansberga, Director General of the State Environmental Service, explains: “The changes brought about by the introduction of the deposit system affect all parties involved in the beverage chain - producers, traders and beverage consumers. In Latvia, the deposit system was set up in a very short time, despite many years of political discussion beforehand. The successful implementation of such an ambitious project was made possible thanks to the effective cooperation between the State Environmental Service and the deposit system operator, as well as the active involvement of producers and traders. I am convinced that the modern drink container deposit system established in Latvia will encourage people, especially those who have not sorted their household waste on a daily basis, to change their daily habits in order to become more environmentally friendly.”
“I would like to thank all those involved - traders, deposit packers, equipment suppliers, builders and others who have helped us achieve this historic moment. I am very pleased that, despite the pandemic, the introduction of the system was not delayed and we did a lot of work during the year to make the long-awaited deposit system available to the public from today. Our deposit system will be the only one in the Baltics that will give people the opportunity to also hand over empty containers at the largest petrol stations, and we will be one of the few deposit systems in the world that will ensure the centralised collection of universal glass bottles and transfer to a wide range of manufacturers for refilling,” comments Miks Stūrītis, Chairman of the Board of “Depozīta Iepakojums Operators”.
The deposit system will be open to glass, plastic (PET) and metal (cans) containers filled with non-alcoholic, all types of beer and other alcoholic (up to 6%) beverages, but the packaging itself is labelled with the Latvian deposit mark. For each deposit packaging purchased, residents will have to pay a deposit fee of € 0.10, which can be returned after the return of the packaging.
Up-to-date information about the deposit system is available on the website www.depozitapunkts.lv, as well as on the “Depozīta punkts” Facebook and Instagram accounts.