BCRS Malta PR photo

With complaints about the container refund scheme still flooding social media almost two months since its launch, questions have been raised about its machines and whether they are the best solution possible to Malta’s recycling problem.

PN MEP candidate Peter Agius has claimed that the Envipco machines being used in Malta go for €15,000 a pop, a fraction of the cost of more efficient machines used in many other countries operating such schemes.

“People are spending ages queueing because they [BCRS] got the cheapest machines they could find,” said Mr Agius in a social media post.

“From research we conducted it emerges that there are many countries with similar recycling schemes, but these have machines that can take 100 bottles a minute, not one-by-one.”

He continued: “These machines cost €60,000 each, whereas the ones bought for Malta cost €15,000. They saved money and lumped you with it, in other words. Meanwhile, they increased the price of water.”

Mr Agius said that he would “expect this from a business that is trying to turn a profit. That’s their work. But from the Government, which is supposed to defend the consumer, I expect better.”

The more expensive option he highlighted is the Tomra R1, which accepts large quantities of containers at a time. The promo video on its website shows a remarkable efficiency that is enough to make frustrated Maltese users drool.

However, such a machine does not seem to be compliant with the needs of the Maltese system, which involves the payment of a deposit on each imported or produced beverage container, and therefore hinges on a barcode scan of each one returned. The Tomra R1 simply collects the containers without scanning the barcode.

Not every beverage container sold in Malta would have had a deposit paid. Therefore, the barcode scan is an integral part of the Maltese scheme and is ostensibly difficult to do without.

However, on Monday, Environment Minister Miriam Dalli stated that her ministry has started talks with BCRS to attempt a fine-tuning of the much-criticised system, singling out the long time it takes to deposit the containers as a particular point of contention.

“For example, we had complaints that putting in bottle by bottle was taking too long, and now the machine system is being tweaked,” she said.

Repeated attempts by BusinessNow.mt to obtain a response from BCRS to the many complaints from people and businesses alike have not been successful.

The Beverage Container Refund Scheme is operated by BCRS Malta Limited, a non-profit private company operated owned by the Malta Beverage Producers Association, The Malta Beverage Importers Association and the Malta Beverage Retailers Association.

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