“We are very confident Romanians will embrace the Deposit Return System and will return their packaging, helping Returo to achieve the high collection rates it assumed. We conducted an extensive consumer research, which proved that 9 out of 10 Romanians will use DRS as a viable solution towards environmental protection. DRS comes only to complement the efforts we have made in recent years to educate our consumer about the importance of separate waste collection and recycling,” Cristian Moldovan, Packaging Recovery Manager Coca-Cola HBC told Sustainability Today.
“The separate waste collection projects rolled out in recent years showed us that consumers are very open to using separate waste infrastructure if they have it at arm’s length. We believe that the Deposit Return System will be a success because it is designed to be as user-friendly and easy to access as possible for everyone.”
How is Coca-Cola HBC Romania preparing for the implementation of the DRS system?
As leader of the beverages sector, we have been conducting industry’s efforts in DRS implementation in Romania, even before it was mentioned in the legislation. Implementing an efficient DRS system, tailored on the Romanian particularities, was a commitment from the beginning and we are excited to be in this phase of preparation for the biggest circular economy project Romania has ever worked on.
Externally, we have formed the Soft Drinks Producers Association for Sustainability (APBRS) with the purpose to become a shareholder, together with Brewers Association for Environment, Retailers Association for Environment, and the Romanian State, in RetuRO, the company appointed administrator of the system. To ensure an efficient corporate governance of the company, RetuRO has been set-up in a dualist system and operates on a not-for-profit principle, enshrined in the by-laws. Through APBRS we are represented in the RetuRO’s General Shareholders Assembly and Supervisory Board.
Internally, we have created a dedicated task force to accommodate all the changes needed in our operations to implement the system. Producers will need to change all the labels because after go-live it is forbidden to introduce packaging on the market without DRS logo and EAN code. Also, it is mandatory for DRS products to be sold with the 0.5 RON deposit on all fiscal documents, so we will need to change our invoicing and accounting system. This must be done in cooperation with all our customers to ensure DRS products will be at shelves after go-live.
With the steps taken so far, we are confident that the implementation will be successful and starting with November 30 the system will be operational nationwide. Together – beverage producers, retailers, and consumers – we will collect and subsequently recycle beverage packaging placed on the market so we will have access to quality feedstock for recycling and recycled raw materials. Thus, we will be able to reach the EU targets set for 2025 and 2030, but above all, we take important steps towards an effective circular economy.
How do you think the Romanian market and consumers will react after the implementation of DRS?
We are very confident Romanians will embrace the Deposit Return System and will return their packaging, helping RetuRO to achieve the high collection rates it assumed. We conducted an extensive consumer research, which proved that 9 out of 10 Romanians will use DRS as a viable solution towards environmental protection. DRS comes only to complement the efforts we have made in the recent years to educate our consumer about the importance of separate waste collection and recycling. You can find all our successful campaigns on www.dupanoi.ro.
The separate waste collection projects rolled out in recent years showed us that consumers are very open to using separate waste infrastructure if they have it at arm’s length. We believe that the Deposit Return System will be a success because it is designed to be as user-friendly and easy to access as possible for everyone.
We are aware that, in addition to the steps the beverage industry has taken, the success of RetuRO also depends on consumers` involvement. RetuRO will deploy an extensive nationwide communication campaign to explain to people how the system works and, more importantly, the benefits it brings to the entire society, from producers to retailers, recyclers, collectors to consumers.
What are your expectations regarding the evolution of the market after the implementation of DRS?
First, the DRS will help protect the environment by the simple fact that much of the packaging put on the market will no longer end up in landfill or in nature. Instead, it will enter the recycling scheme and be part of a truly circular economy, providing us and future generations with a cleaner and greener environment.
The implementation of the DRS will help the recycling market develop, with recyclers having quality raw material for recycling. This will make it easier for beverage producers to access quality rPET locally, from Romanian recyclers, and it is essential for us all to have the first access to recycled material feedstock from DRS, this way completing the concept of Bottle-to-Bottle recycling.
In addition to these benefits, the DRS is a tool that can increase collection targets for beverage packaging waste and help Romania reach the targets of the new European regulations requiring high percentages. The required plastic collection target is 77% by 2025 and 90% by 2029. In addition, by incentivizing the recycling market and enabling more usage of recycled content in beverage packaging, the DRS will be a solution to reach targets of 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030 of packaging made from recycled materials.
What are your projects for improving the energy efficiency of the production in Romania?
In Romania, for the last 4 years we have switched to using electricity that comes entirely from renewable and clean sources in our plants. We use 100% electric equipment fleet (forklifts and lifters). We continuously invest in state-of-the-art technology that is as efficient as possible in terms of energy and water usage. For example, in 2021, following a 19 million Euro investment, we installed an aseptic bottling line in Ploiești plant that produces Fuzetea. This line uses a unique DRY technology that requires less usage of energy and water in the bottles’ sterilization process. This year we have initiated investments for installing a new PET line and for extending the fully automated High Bay warehouse in Ploiești. In Timișoara, we investigate the possibility of installing solar panels in our plant.
What is your sustainability roadmap for Romania? What are your short- and medium-term goals?
We want our actions to continue to make a difference in the years to come, both in terms of operations and environmental impact, and in terms of our portfolio and initiatives to support communities.
In 2021, at Group level, we committed to reduce emissions across our entire value chain to #netzeroby2040. Over the past decade, we halved our direct emissions, and our greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan to 2030 is already endorsed and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in line with the 1.5˚C pathway. By 2030 we will reduce our value chain emissions in scopes 1, 2 and 3 by 25% vs 2017.
In addition, we also set an ambitious goal related to packaging collection included in our World Without Waste strategy. By 2030 we aim to contribute to collecting the equivalent of each bottle or can we place on the market.
Therefore, we continue to do our utmost to achieve our #NetZeroby40 and A World Without Waste targets and, together with our NGO partners, we are promoting separate collection and recycling initiatives, sustainable sourcing, and carbon reduction practices across our entire value chain.
An important initiative which I would like to mention here, connected with the DRS implementation, is an EUR 10,8 million investment in a rPET decontamination unit installed in our Ploiesti plant. The equipment will help us produce rPET in-house, use it in the preforms we are producing here for all local bottling needs and maximize the usage of recycled content in our PET portfolio to the highest possible degree. It is the best example on how we can close the loop in a truly circular economy.