Bottle recycling program operator seeks funds to waive disputed fees
The operator of Malta’s bottle recycling scheme has said it is prepared to waive fees for small importers and manufacturers in return for financial help from the government.
BCRS Ltd, which is legally bound to run the scheme on a not-for-profit basis, is made up of some of Malta’s biggest players in the beverage industry. He is set to receive €100 for each individual drink put on the local market, which the small businesses believe will drive them to financial ruin.
Earlier this week, in a letter sent to the environment minister, small importers and manufacturers argued that the rules would cost them bankruptcy, since they are treated the same as big players who place millions in beverage containers on the market.
However, in a response, BCRS asked the government to “provide a financial contribution” to partially cover its capital expenditure of €17 million and to waive an annual fee of €230,000 for the first year of operation. in exchange for the removal of the fee disputed by small businesses. .
In a letter to Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, BCRS warned against making last-minute changes to the program.
“We strongly argue that the unilateral introduction of any measure at this stage that alters the structure of an internationally proven model risks seriously compromising the success of the program.”
The drinks recycling scheme, which is due to become operational in April this year, will see 10c added to the cost of applicable drinks, with consumers able to recoup this charge by depositing empty containers at vending machines in major supermarkets and outlets across Malta and Gozo.
The company said operating the system would require a computer network linking 350 vending machines to a secure database of registered beverage containers, and operating a processing plant in Ħal Far.
He said the €100 fee ‘should technically be higher’, but said he would be willing to waive the tariff, if the government agrees to properly enforce the system to ensure all drink importers comply to the system; waives an annual license fee of €230,000 due for the first year of operation; contributing to BCRS’ capital expenditures which it felt did not benefit from EU funding, and assisting BCRS in its public education campaigns.
The program is expected to collect and recycle up to 70% of all single-use beverage containers by the end of 2022, gradually increasing to 90% of all such containers by 2026.
However, the government has exempted wines and spirits from the rules and only water, soft drinks, beers and ciders, ready-made coffee and flavored alcoholic drinks will be subject to the scheme.
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