Proposed scheme to impose refundable deposit on beverage containers; NEA seeking feedback


WHAT THE PROCESS MAY LOOK LIKE

The scheme will likely be managed by a not-for-profit entity that will take charge of operations, such as the collection of used containers, and the handling of deposits.

This operator will be required to report its operations and performance, and achieve a return target set by the NEA, which will regulate and monitor its compliance. 

In similar overseas initiatives, producers of pre-packaged beverages are legally responsible for the collection and recycling of used containers. They register as a member with the scheme operator to collect and recycle beverage containers on behalf of the operator and also fund the scheme. 

Barcodes of pre-packaged drinks must be registered with the operator. This helps the operator track the numbers and types of containers covered and also serves to prevent consumers from claiming a refund for inapplicable containers, such as those bought overseas. Barcodes can also be scanned when returned to reverse vending machines.

Apart from a barcode, containers will be labelled with a deposit mark to help consumers identify those that are covered under the scheme. 

As to where the containers can be returned, the Government is mulling mandated return points at large supermarkets with a total area of more than 200 sq m. These supermarkets – of which there are around 400 – account for one-third of pre-packaged drinks sold in Singapore and are also the preferred return locations for survey respondents.

Other return points will be considered after balancing their convenience and accessibility to consumers against the operational costs of an extensive collection network. 

Return points could take the form of over-the-counter manual returns handled by cashiers, or automated reverse vending machines. The scheme operator will pay these return points handling fees to compensate for associated costs.

As to how food and beverage operators may carry out the scheme, Dr Khor said that operators may choose to pour the beverage into cups for customers and keep the containers, or they might hand the container over to customers themselves. 

Upon return of the containers, consumers may get their refunds through electronic transfer, cash, cash vouchers or may also opt to donate the amount to charity. 

Based on the past survey, cash and electronic transfers were the most preferred options. 

The public is invited to give their feedback and views, particularly on the type of beverage containers to include, the deposit amount and return point locations, via go.gov.sg/nea-bcrs. The survey will close on Oct 14, 11.59pm.



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