The first initiative calling for the implementation of a nation-wide deposit return system launched last week on Friday in Italy.
The campaign, a coordinated effort led by the national Association Comuni Virtuosi, is supported by major environmental NGOs and other organisations, aims to raise the awareness of citizens, politicians, beverage and retail companies of the benefits of such a DRS scheme, and to promote its adoption in the short term.
Tools have been developed, such as petitions, surveys, public events and public information materials including reports on the most-littered items found during cleanups, studies and outreach materials, designed to support this aim. Already, the results of a recent survey conducted by AstraRicerche and commissioned by the campaign show that 83% of Italians favour the implementation of a national DRS.
Association Comuni Virtuosi (ACV) is a member of the Reloop Platform, an international not-for-profit organisation registered in Belgium that works with governments, industry and society to accelerate the global transition to a circular economy for all resources. Reloop last year released a report entitled What We Waste, which used data from 93 countries, most of which dated back to 1999, to examine trends in sales and the collection and wastage of drinks containers.
It also developed an interactive tool, the What We Waste dashboard, enabling users to explore this data in more detail.
ACV has released information garnered from this Dashboard showing that more than seven billion beverage containers fail to be recycled each year: ending up as litter in the environment or disposed of in incinerators or landfill. This equals 119 beverage containers wasted by each Italian a year. A waste, says ACV, that Italy could reduce by 75-80% by adopting a deposit system.
ACV also points to the difference in beverage bottle collection rates between EU Member States with and without such a scheme in place (94% and 47% respectively). The average capture rates of PET beverage packaging in European countries where a DRS is in place exceeds 90%.
The first step towards the establishment of a DRS was taken last year in July, when an amendment was inserted in Italy’s Act on Simplification - legislation designed to simplify regulations - that mandated the Ministry of Ecological Transition together with the Ministry of Economic Development to draw up the implementing acts for the introduction of a DRS.
The present campaign is seeking the introduction of a DRS incorporating the features of other, successful systems already operating in Europe. In other words, such a scheme should be nation-wide, mandatory for all producers and include beverage containers of all kinds.
Such a system would promote the transition to a circular economy and enable the European targets for separate collection and recycling to be met.
Plus, this approach aligns with current initiatives of certain EU institutions, which are examining the possibility of a common approach to DRS throughout Europe, in order to successfully achieve the implementation of these schemes wherever these have not yet been introduced.