After many delays, Malta’s Bottle Container Refund Scheme (BCRS) has officially gone live, and will see 10c added to the cost of many single use beverage containers in the hopes that consumers and businesses will deposit them at designated sites, recouping the extra cost and avoiding such waste ending up in landfills.

First thing’s first – what is a BCRS and how will it work?

The beverage recycling scheme intends to address waste management failures by adding 10c to the cost of beverages covered by the scheme, with consumers able to recoup the charge by depositing empty containers at the aforementioned RVMs located across Malta’s village cores or a ‘designated redemption location’ – which can also be through RVMs located at major retailers.

Consumers who purchase a beverage at a local grocery store, for example, can then deposit that container – which must be in good condition with the barcode easily read – at any of the public RVMs across Malta’s village cores and will receive a voucher to be redeemed against a bill at any retailer.  If the container is returned at an RVM located at the premises of a major retailer, then the voucher issued is redeemable only at that major retailer or its chain of outlets.

This deposit will initially be paid by beverage importers and producers to BCRS Malta Ltd, and will then be passed on down the supply chain, with each step paying 10c to its predecessor, from the importer through to the distributor, to the retailer, be it a shop or hospitality venue, to the final customer.

BCRS Malta PR photo
(Left) BCRS CEO Edward Chetcuti / (right) Chairman Pierre Fava next to RVMs

In cases where a beverage is consumed on site, such as at a bar or a club, the establishment may only charge the consumer 10c if the beverage container is taken off premises by the consumer. So, say a bar serves a customer a can of beer, and the customer drinks that beer seated at said bar, no 10c deposit is to be charged to the customer. The bar would have paid out the 10c deposit per container to the wholesale distributor where it purchased its stock, and would be responsible to return those containers to an RVM or via a collection service (more information on this below), where they would be repaid the 10c deposit through a fund at BCRS Ltd.

What beverage containers fall under the scheme?

Not all beverage containers form part of the bottle return scheme, such as dairy containers, juice and nectars, wines and spirits, beverages in cartons and more.

Water and flavoured water containers, non-carbonated and carbonated soft drinks, ciders, beers and other malt beverages, ready to drink coffee, flavoured alcoholic beverages where the alcoholic content does not exceed five per cent and dilutables all form part of the scheme.

RVMs and how retailers can return used beverage containers

While final consumers should use the RVMs to receive a 10c voucher per container that can be redeemed at a retailer against their bill, businesses using the RVMs are being given a redemption card service, where they can go to an RVM at any time, scan the card so that the system is aware of which business is depositing containers, and instead of receiving vouchers back like a consumer would, they would receive the 10c deposit back directly into their bank accounts, resulting in a B2B transaction between BCRS ltd and the business.

Remember, businesses where beverage containers are consumed onsite are responsible for returning those containers to BCRS Ltd should they wish to recoup their 10c deposit paid out to wholesale distributors.

What happens if for some reason an operator does not want to use an RVM?

BCRS Ltd has laid out clear incentives for businesses to use the RVM machines rather than make use of a collection service available free of charge on a monthly basis. While using the machines would mean businesses have to individually deposit each container, something that would take time, especially for larger bars and restaurants, it would also see them get their deposit per container refunded via a bank transaction.

For the collection service, businesses need to use bags and special tags to seal them, that can only be obtained through BCRS.

BCRS will offer a free collection once a month, beyond that if a business wants more frequent collection, this can be organised through the same collector at a cost, using an online booking system.

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