Romania could recycle up to 80 pct more through the SGR project

As of November 30, 2023, Romania has started the implementation of a guarantee-return system. From that moment Romanians pay a guarantee of 0.50 RON (0.10 EUR) when buying a drink in glass, plastic or metal packaging (water, soft drinks, beer, cider, wine, spirits) from a retailer. After emptying the packaging, the consumer will have to bring it to one of the return points organised by the traders and will receive back, on the spot, the amount of the guarantee initially paid, without being required to show the receipt.

The project is managed by RetuRO Guarantee-Return System SA – which is a "non-profit" company, meaning that any profit made from the collection of beverage packaging will be reinvested exclusively in the development of SGR. The company was created by a consortium of three private shareholders: Romanian Brewers Association for the Environment (30%), Association of Soft Drinks Producers for Sustainability (30%) and Retailers Association for the Environment (20%) and a public shareholder, the Romanian state, through the central environmental authority, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests (20%).

It is estimated that Romania could achieve a recycling increase of up to 80% in the coming years, through the implementation and proper functioning of the new Guarantee-Return System (SGR), thus reaching the targets set by the European Union and becoming a leader in the circular economy in Central and Eastern Europe, according to an analysis of Green Environment Support (environmental consulting company).

Recycle program

Through the Guarantee-Return System, Romania will collect 7 billion packages each year, thus placing 2nd after Germany in the collection of packages, according to the data announced by the Ministry of Environment. At the same time, Romania will collect and can recycle 3.5 times more packaging than Slovakia, for example, which has to collect and recycle approximately 2 million packages per year, according to RetuRO data, reads a press release from Green Environment Support.

"Romania is still far from the objectives set at the level of the European Union and the European average, and we also lack updated statistics, the recycling level being approximately 11%-12% of municipal waste, compared to almost 50%, which is the European average. However, through the SGR project, Romania has the capacity to recycle a much larger amount of waste in the coming years and thus achieve a recycling advance of up to 80%, becoming a landmark of the circular economy and a model in this sense in Central and East Europe," said Daniela Dobre, CEO of Green Environment Support.

According to the EU objectives, Romania must reach by 2026 the target of collection and return of SGR packaging for producers of 85% for glass type packaging, 90% for plastic and 90% for metal. As far as the circular economy is concerned, Romania is only at the beginning of the transition from a linear economy to a circular one. Currently, the Romanian economy is circular in the proportion of only 1.3%, according to World Bank data, the press release mentions.

Romania is the 11th country in Europe to implement a SGR type system, after Norway, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Iceland, Estonia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania.