Hungary debuts new deposit return scheme for drink containers

Hungary debuts new deposit return scheme for drink containers

Sustainability

Hungary kick-started the New Year with the inauguration of its new deposit return scheme (DRS) for drink container recycling on January 1st.

Collaborating with MOHU (MOL Hulladékgazdálkodási Zrt.), the central system administrator for the DRS, global reverse vending leader, TOMRA has worked to establish an extensive collection infrastructure in Hungary. This infrastructure aims to ensure the convenient return of single-use drink containers, making recycling easily accessible for newcomers.

The DRS encompasses ready-to-drink or concentrated beverages (excluding milk and milk-based products) in single-use aluminium cans and glass/plastic bottles ranging from 0.1 to 3 litres. Consumers pay a deposit of 50 Hungarian forint (approximately €0.13) when purchasing an eligible drink, refunded upon returning the empty container for recycling—creating a system akin to purchasing the drink but borrowing the container. Return options include grocery retailers exceeding 400m2 and a growing network of voluntary and manual return sites, seamlessly integrating recycling into consumers' existing shopping routines.

TOMRA has deployed over 1000 high-volume reverse vending machines (RVMs) across Hungary, strategically placed in medium to large locations such as supermarkets and hypermarkets in urban areas. The ongoing rollout of additional RVMs in 2024 aims to enhance efficiency and security in the identification, sorting, and refund process compared to manual container returns.

Hungary launches new deposit return scheme for drink container recycling © TOMRA
Dávid Bakos, Managing Director Hungary, TOMRA Collection, said: We applaud Hungary’s bold steps toward a circular future, with today’s launch of the deposit return system a milestone in transforming waste management and promoting recycling. We look forward to working with MOHU further to secure solid public participation in the deposit return system and ensure a convenient network of return points for recycling.

Hungary's DRS aligns with MOHU's commitment to promoting a circular economy and combatting litter. Additionally, the system introduces Extended Producer Responsibility and aligns with the European Union's Single-Use Plastics Directive targets, requiring member countries to separately collect 90% of plastic beverage bottles by 2029.

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