Opinion by Adrian Teampau, Director, Deloitte Romania
The Return Guarantee System (SGR), a partnership between the private sector and the Romanian state with the aim of improving the recycling rate of packaging waste, must become fully functional by the end of November 2023. As a result, the companies concerned, namely producers, importers and beverage retailers operating on the local market are obliged, until that date, to comply with a series of requirements imposed by the legislation in force. The main and closest one is related to the mandatory registration in the database of the SGR administrator, namely February 28, 2023.
Concretely, the system requires the payment, by the consumer, of a guarantee of 0.5 lei/package for the purchased drink and its recovery, on the spot, when returning the package to one of the return points organized by merchants within the stores, without to be conditional on the presentation of the tax receipt. Moreover, the buyer is not obliged to return the packaging to the store where he bought the drink but can recover his warranty from any store.
The guarantee will apply to products such as beer, beer mixes, alcoholic drink mixes, cider, other fermented drinks, juices, nectars, soft drinks, mineral waters and drinking waters of any kind, wines and spirits, in disposable packaging (non-reusable) made of plastic, glass or aluminium, with a volume between 0.1 and 3 litres. The rule is also valid for companies in the hospitality industry that sell these products, but in this case the guarantee is retained only for the products consumed outside the location.
The operation of the system is the responsibility of the SGR administrator, established according to the legislation in force, which manages the flow of the guarantee from the manufacturer/importer to the final consumer. It operates based on the administration fee collected from those who introduce the drinks to the market, but in turn pays the retailers for the investment made in the return points.
Steps to enroll in the system
But, beyond these organizational aspects, the companies that are obliged to enrol in this system face a series of financial, fiscal and legal challenges related to compliance with the regulations in the field.
First, the manufacturer or importer of products in the affected categories must register in the administrator’s database by February 28, 2023, which means that, by that date, they will have to complete the necessary documentation for this purpose. Those who do not register risk a fine between 20,000 and 40,000 lei and the loss of the right to sell their products on the Romanian market. After registration, the company will sign a contract with the SGR administrator and pay an administration fee set by him.
In parallel, the company in question will have to identify and mark the products in its range in SGR packaging and analyse the financial-accounting impact related to the payment of the guarantee of 0.5 lei/packaging, also taking into account the time gap between the payment of the guarantee, to the SGR, and its recovery. Finally, all entities involved must keep a record of SGR packaging and adjust their operational-logistical flow for these packaging.
Consequently, the approach is commendable, but it involves a significant administrative effort for the affected companies, so they must carefully prepare the necessary documentation and carefully analyse the financial and fiscal impact of the entire procedure.