Overview of the development and changes in waste legislation in Slovakia

19. 11 .2021, Denis Bede

Short summary of information on Slovakia´s deposit system operational from 1.1.2022

Within the Slovakia´s deposit system, from January 1, 2022, single-use plastic beverage bottles and metal cans with a content of more than 80% of water and with a volume between 0.1 and 3 litres, marked with a specific bar code, text and graphics, will be deposited. 

Plastic and metal containers from milk and milk drinks, syrups and alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of more than 15% will be excluded from the deposit system. The price of the deposit will be set uniformly for 15 eurocents. Deposited single-use beverage bottles and cans will have to be returned to the collection point uncompressed, together with the cap or lid. Care must be taken to ensure that they have the relevant bar code. Deposited packaging will have to be returned to the marked collection points, into vending machines, or in the case of manual collection, to the worker at the store, e.g. at the cashier’s counter. According to the law, establishing a deposit collection point will be mandatory for all stores with a sales area over 300 square meters. In stores with a smaller sales area, establishing a deposit collection point will be voluntary. The administrator of the deposit system is a non-profit organization, authorized by the Ministry, created by a consortium of 4 entities AVNM, SZVPS, SAMO and ZOSR, which represent producers of non-alcoholic beverages, mineral waters, beer producers and representatives of wholesale and retail. The system is financed from producer fees, material sales and uncollected deposits. The state will have a supervisory function. Profits from the sales of sorted deposited packaging will also be returned to the system.  

Upcoming amendments of the waste law and law on depositing of single-use beverage packaging

The Parliament approved another two amendments of the waste legislation – amendment of the Act No. 79/2015 Coll. on waste and amendment of the Act No. 302/2019 Coll. on depositing of single-use beverage packaging.

The Amendment of the Act on depositing of single-use beverage packaging elaborates the legal relationship and cooperation of the Ministry of Environment and the administrator of the deposit system and fine-tunes some legislative adjustment of the deposit system.

The Amendment establishes the first exemptions from the obligation to deposit single-use beverage packaging. The deposit will not apply to disposable single-use beverage packaging provided to passengers in international transport, sold in duty-free zones, exported from the territory of the EU, provided for sale on marketplaces in quantities of less than 100 kg per year or technically impossible to collect. 

Smaller stores (bellow 300 square meters) will have an option to issue shopping vouchers instead of paying cash for returned deposited beverage packaging or deduct the value of returned deposited beverage packaging directly from the purchase in order to motivate smaller stores to join the network of collection points.

The return targets for the deposited single-use beverage packaging are tightened from original 77% by the end of 2024 to 80% by the end of 2023 and 85% by the end of 2024. The 90% return target is updated from the end of 2027 to the end of 2025. The same target is set also for the metal beverage cans, where the original return target of 90% by weight of packaging placed on the market in a calendar year is being updated from the end of 2029 to the end of 2025. 

At the same time, the responsibility for the municipal waste management will be extended to business persons and legal entities as producers as well on separately collected wastes from single-use beverage packaging, which does not meet the requirements for collection, according to the Act on depositing of single-use beverage packaging. The aim of the regulation is to ensure the legal regime for waste, that commercial stores will not be able to collect, as they meet one of the exemptions from the obligation to deposit single-use beverage packaging mentioned in the text.

The Amendment of the Act on waste brings several changes:

It completes the transposition of Directive (EU) 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of impact of certain plastic products on the environment, in order to support the transition to a circular economy with innovative and sustainable business models, products and materials. 

As part of the transposition, a whole new Section 8 – Special Plastic Products will be inserted, which:

1. Takes over the definitions from the Art. 3 of the Directive;

2. Introduces rules for reducing consumption, which consists of:

  1. prohibiting the provision of single-use plastic products and tableware to consumers for the consumption of food and beverages at the point of sale, both in stores and at public events,
  2. the obligation to provide these for a fee or to offer an alternative that is either re-usable or biodegradable with regard to the consumption of food and beverages elsewhere than at the point of sale (take-away),
  3. the obligation of the organizer of public event to ensure a separate collection of those alternatives to single-use plastic products and tableware;

3. Introduces an obligation, from July 3, 2024 to ensure that caps and lids are designed to remain attached to beverage containers during the products intended use stage (Art. 6 of the Directive);

4. For beverage bottles to ensure that

  1. from 2025, PET bottles placed on the market in Slovakia contain at least 25% recycled plastic,
  2. from 2030, beverage (not only PET) bottles placed on the market in Slovakia contain at least 30% recycled plastic (Art. 6 of the Directive);

5. Adds obligations for labeling of single-use plastic products such as hygiene products, wet wipes, beverage cups and tobacco products, in order to ensure marked incline in consumer knowledge about the most appropriate waste management options when it becomes waste, in line with the waste hierarchy, as well as about the presence of plastics in the product and resulting negative impact of littering or other inappropriate means of waste disposal of the product on the environment (Art. 7 of the Directive);

Fulfillment of these requirements will ensure consumer awareness to the extent that will allow them to know all the consequences of their consumer behaviour and its negatives on the environment and thus the ability to find the alternatives to such products. At present, the producer is obliged to conduct information campaigns through the EPR, which have only a partial impact on the behavior of the final consumer.

6. Extends the list of obligations relating to the extended producer responsibility (EPR) set out in paragraphs 27 and 52 of the Act to include waste from single-use plastic products such as lightweight plastic bags, beverage packaging or food containers. For these plastic products, the manufacturer bears the costs of raising consumer awareness, the costs of disposing of such waste and even the costs of cleaning the environment contaminated with waste from such products if they have not been disposed of in rubbish bins. Extended producer responsibility will apply also to manufacturers of tobacco products and fishing gear. Manufacturers of tobacco products are allowed to set up specific waste collection infrastructure for these products, if they do not want to be involved in existing waste collection systems.

State institutions are also obliged to use only beverages purchased in deposited beverage packaging as a measure to prevent excessive generation of packaging waste within the activities of state administration bodies.

‐ Denis Bede

Cyrkl in the media