RetuRO hopes to change Romania's culture of recycling

Green Forum
RetuRO is making significant progress in developing the collection infrastructure. In February, the sorting and counting center for packaging in Timis County (at Giarmata) was opened. Together with the RetuRO center in Bontida, RetuRO will process approximately one billion beverage packages annually. RetuRO will gradually develop the infrastructure of regional centers for the Deposit-Return System by the end of the year, concurrently with the increase in the volume of beverage packaging introduced to the market by producers, returned by consumers, and collected by retailers, said Anca Marinescu, Corporate Affairs & Communication Manager RetuRO, in an interview for Green Forum.

What have been the results of the DRS from the launch in November 2023 to date?

Out of the 80,000 potential participants, approximately 67,000 economic operators have enrolled in the Deposit-Return System. Additionally, nearly 20,000 operators have already signed contracts with RetuRO. This means that roughly 25% of retailers can already accept returns.

In Romania, approximately 7 billion packaging units are used annually, while the 45 million put on the market in December last year and marked with the "Packaging with guarantee" logo represent less than 1% of the total. However, RetuRO has managed to collect over 2.2 million packaging units so far, exclusively from collection machines (RVMs). We're pleased to see that consumers have embraced and are utilizing the benefits of the Deposit-Return System.

What are your expectations for DRS in 2024? 

At this moment, the real benefit for all parties involved is the launch of the DRS on the market, which represents a tangible tool available to all for collecting beverage packaging. This instrument will continue to evolve and be increasingly adopted on a larger scale by all parties involved, ensuring that we meet the European recycling targets.

RetuRO is making significant progress in developing the collection infrastructure, also. In February, the sorting and counting center for packaging in Timiș County (at Giarmata) was opened. It covers an area of over 4400 square meters and will have a processing capacity of approximately 8 million packaging units per month. Together with the RetuRO center in Bonțida, RetuRO will process approximately one billion beverage packages annually.

How will Romania compare in the next five years in terms of recycling with countries in the region? 

RetuRO's mission is to change the culture of recycling and make it accessible, intuitive, and, above all, impactful. In terms of recycling targets, over the next 12 months, we aim to achieve a minimum recycling rate of 65% for DRS packaging placed on the market.

Examining success stories from across Europe, particularly in countries like Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands, unveils the incredible transformations that DRS has brought to these nations. Norway, for instance, boasts a remarkable 95% return and recycling rate for plastic bottles, showcasing a community deeply committed to environmental stewardship. Germany's DRS has not only revolutionized recycling rates but also reshaped its economic framework, fostering a circular economy that values conservation as much as consumption. Similarly, Lithuania and Estonia have achieved outstanding success, with over 90% return rates for beverage containers within a relatively short time frame.

These European examples serve as guiding lights, illuminating the path of action and transformation that Romania is now embarking upon. Beyond the environmental benefits, DRS promises a profound cultural shift towards sustainability and responsibility, positioning Romania at the forefront of circular economy initiatives in the European landscape. The Romanian DRS will serve as a best practice example for governments worldwide, being the largest system of its kind with a centralized process.

How does RetuRo integrate social and economic considerations into its environmental initiatives, particularly about job creation and community development?

RetuRO integrates social and economic considerations into its environmental initiatives by creating green job opportunities through the establishment of collection points and infrastructure for the Deposit-Return System. These initiatives contribute to community development by engaging local businesses, consumers, and authorities in sustainable practices, fostering a sense of environmental stewardship within communities.

Additionally, RetuRO's focus on reducing litter and promoting recycling aligns with broader social responsibility objectives, creating cleaner and healthier environments while educating consumers and businesses about the importance of recycling and waste reduction. Overall, RetuRO's efforts aim to generate positive impacts on both local communities and broader society through its sustainable practices.

What are RetuRo's plans and initiatives to further enhance its contribution to sustainability?

The development of RetuRO's counting and sorting centers is an ongoing process, and our priority is to ensure that we can handle packaging volumes concurrently with the number present in the market. RetuRO will establish a comprehensive infrastructure to support recycling efforts in Romania. This approach integrates technology, strategic planning, and, most importantly, community involvement.

RetuRO's activity will contribute significantly to raising public awareness about the importance of recycling and the specific benefits of the DRS, because RetuRO not only had to develop the system from scratch, but the company is also responsible for the information and civic education process to familiarize all participants with the Deposit Return System. Educational campaigns and outreach efforts will be visible across various media channels, ensuring that consumers are well-informed and actively engaged in the recycling process.

Green Forum  |  23 April, 2024 at 11:00 AM