Latvia DRS achieves 80% return rate

Latvia’s deposit return system (DRS) for drink container recycling launched on 1 February 2022, with global reverse vending leader TOMRA Collection serving as the nationwide provider for the return of empty containers.

With a tight timeframe of just 13 months between the appointment of the local DRS operator and the full public launch of the new system, the Latvian DRS is a good example of how quickly and efficiently a strong system can be implemented. 

In fact, just two years on from its launch, Latvia has announced that a landmark 80% return rate has been achieved. 

By launching its DRS, Latvia joined the other Baltic states of Estonia and Lithuania in offering a nationwide drink container recycling system. 

The Latvian deposit return system’s goal is to reach a 90% return rate of eligible drink containers for recycling, meeting the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive’s 2029 target for member states to reduce plastic waste and pollution (with an interim goal of 77% separate collection of single-use plastic bottles by 2025). Another key aim of the DRS is to reduce waste reaching the Baltic Sea coast, rivers, forests and parks.

A container deposit of €0.10 was set. Eligible containers included non-refillable (single-use) and refillable glass bottles, plastic bottles and aluminium cans of 0.1 to 3 litres for carbonated and non-carbonated non-alcohol drinks, beer and other fermented products with an alcohol content of up to 6%. The Latvian DRS uses a return-to-retail model, where consumers can return empty cans and bottles for recycling to stores to get their deposit back.

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