People will be asked to deposit bottles and cans in special recycling machines dotted across the country starting from November 14, when a much-delayed beverage container recycling scheme finally goes live.

The scheme, which is intended to bump up bottle recycling rates in Malta, will see consumers pay a marginally higher price when buying drinks and then receive a voucher equivalent to that 10c price bump when they deposit the bottle or can in one of 320 specialised ‘reverse vending machines’ being set up around the country. 

Around 85 per cent of those machines should be in place by the November 14 launch date, allowing the scheme to go live, Circular Economy Malta said in a statement on Saturday.

The vouchers will be redeemable at shops that sell the beverages in question.

Cans that are squashed or bottles that have their labels removed will not be eligible for recycling.

Wine, spirit and juice bottles have been excluded from the scheme, which applies to:

  •  water and flavoured water
  • carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks
  • ciders, beers, and malt beverages
  • ready to drink coffee
  • flavoured alcoholic beverages with an alcoholic content level which does not exceed 5%
  • dilutables.

First announced years ago by former prime minister Joseph Muscat, talk of the scheme then went quiet for years until it was revived in 2020 in a different guise.

The scheme is now run by BCRS, a private consortium made up of Malta’s largest beverage manufacturers and importers, which has been contracted by a new state-run Agency, Circular Economy Malta, to operate the scheme.

BCRS signed a deal with Envipco to import the reverse vending machines one year ago, but plans to launch the scheme in April had to be put off as work on a sorting facility in ─Žal Far continued.

The consortium also ran into trouble when smaller operators warned that under existing rules, the recycling scheme would effectively bankrupt them while forcing them to divulge sensitive company data to their larger competitors, which form part of the BCRS consortium.

The consortium said at the time that if it was to adapt its rules to assauge such concerns, it would need significant financial help from the government.

The government has never commented about the situation

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