An EU level 50% marine litter reduction target for 2020, widely accepted as both  necessary and feasible, must be coupled with affordable measures to ensure its success. Retorna have been working over the last five years to show how a Deposit and Return System (DRS) for drinks containers is one of the best tools to help achieve this goal.

In Spain alone, 28 million empty drink containers are not properly collected every day, with many instead ending up in our oceans and seas. On the other side of the scale, in Germany, where beverage packaging is sold using a deposit scheme, 98.5% of the bottles and cans are recovered. Numerous studies have shown that countries or regions with deposit schemes have consistently less beverage packaging litter in coastal areas than those without.

The way Retorna works is simple: as a wide and growing platform of environmental NGO´s, the recycling industry, consumer and family organisations and trade unions come together to claim for a better way to treat our waste as a resource, within the Zero Waste and Clean Circular Economy parameters. Retorna have carried out studies on job creation, CO2 emission reductions, consumer perception, economic feasibility, and marine litter.

Retorna cooperates closely with their members to communicate the advantages of improving our current system with a DRS, and are currently particularly focusing efforts on political stakeholders.

One of the main achievements was a pilot project, co-organised with the regional environmental authorities. The project, carried out in Cadaqués, a coastal municipality, proved all Retorna's key messages:

  • DRS drastically reduces litter, including marine litter;
  • DRS allows consumers to choose refillable containers over single-use ones;
  • DRS reduces CO2 emissions, due to compaction and reverse logistics;
  • DRS creates green jobs at no cost for the government;
  • DRs are accepted by retailers, who receive a remuneration for managing the returned containers;
  • DRS enables bottle-to-bottle recycling, thus closing the materials loop;
  • DRS reduces significantly raw material extraction and imports;
  • DRS saves money for municipalities in collection services, landfill and incineration taxes and street and beach cleaning.

Retorna also participate in the development of relevant legislation, either as the platform and/or through our members in a coordinated way. At present, the Waste Management Plan is under revision, including marine litter, and Retorna are working with other sectors to improve the draft text.

Retorna support each of its members in communication and dissemination initiatives, having created a very influential online network.

Through its participation in Seas At Risk, Retorna aims to share and enhance its DRS experiences with other NGOs and join forces in combating marine litter Europe-wide. 

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