Back 2021.02.22

Lithuania has achieved impressive results in deposit-refund system management

February marks five years since the launch of the modern beverage container deposit-refund system in Lithuania. The deposit-refund system demonstrated top results, and Lithuanians have willingly shared their experience with other countries.

The slogan “Grąžinti verta” (It’s worth returning) has already been noticed by many people in Lithuania. Lithuanian residents can return disposable containers to more than 3,000 container collection points in Lithuania today. Currently, 9 out of 10 beverage cans and disposable glass and plastic bottles placed on the market are returned for refund in Lithuania.

‘All the EU member states have committed to recycle 90% of the plastic bottles placed on the market by 2029, with the waste turned into secondary raw materials. Lithuania has already achieved this indicator, with more than 90% of plastic bottles being returned to collection points.’ claims Gintaras Varnas, Head of Public Institution Užstato sistemos adminsitratorius (USAD).

According to the public data published on the deposit system administrator‘s website in 2020 the return rate of PET bottles was 92 %, glass bottles – 85 %.

Before the deposit system has started, e.g. in 2015 about 55 % of plastic packaging waste collected were recovered.Taking into consideration other countries experience it was planned that in the first year the return rate of beverage packaging covered with deposit would be 55 %. But it exceeded planned expectations – in 2016 the return rate was 74 %.

The more disposable containers are returned to the deposit-refund system and are recycled, the stronger is the impetus for the circular economy in Lithuania. Recycled container waste is transformed into high-quality secondary raw materials used for the production of new packaging or other products. For example, glass and aluminium containers can be recycled an unlimited number of times, which saves energy and other natural resources, reduces CO2 emissions, and extends lifetime of landfills.

It is estimated that the beverage containers collected throughout Lithuania over 5 years helped to save 554.6 GWh of electricity. For comparison, 460 thousand apartments consume this amount of electricity per year in Lithuania.

Annual public surveys show public attitudes towards deposit-refund system. In the latest survey, all the respondents have indicated that they had enough information about the system introduced 5 years ago.

An opinion poll conducted in October last year showed that an absolute majority (98%) of respondents believed that a deposit-refund system was useful.

The latest survey revealed that as many as 95% of respondents were satisfied with the functioning of the container deposit-refund system.