Austria plans deposit for single-use beverage containers,
quota for refillable bottles

Austrian environment minister Leonore Gewessler
07.09.2020 − 

In the fight against plastic waste, Austria's environment minister Leonore Gewessler has plans to impose a deposit on single-use beverage bottles and to mandate that the retail sector offer more drinks in refillable bottles. Under plans presented on Monday, the Austrian government intends to require a quarter of beverages be sold in refillable bottles beginning in 2023. Two years later, that minimum quota would then be raised to 40 per cent, and an in 2030 it would be raised again to 55 per cent. "Typically", Ms Gewessler said, "these will be glass bottles". The quota is one of the measures introduced by the minister as part of her three-point plan intended "to stem the tide of plastic waste".

The Austrian government is seeking to ensure that in the future, refillable bottles are available for purchase in every store in Austria. At the same time, a deposit is to be charged on the purchase of beverages in single-use packaging (plastic bottles and metal cans). The details of a deposit return system are currently being hammered out between the ministry and representatives of beverage manufacturers, collection and recycling systems, retailers, waste management companies and civil society.

The environmental organizations Greenpeace, Global 2000 and WWF welcomed the three-point plan. However, the measures were criticised by the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ). The industry body warned that many smaller, local grocery stores would be the destination of choice for returned bottles and that the resulting financial pressures could drive them out of business. In addition, the WKÖ estimates that a deposit return system (DRS) would incur at least €60m in logistics costs per year.

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