Estonia is one of the countries that, in its experience with the deposit system in 13 years, has made some of the authorities enthusiastic and enthusiastic about their introduction in Latvia. Although the deposit system in Estonia has been active for a long time and residents are relatively active in using the opportunity to transfer certain types of empty packaging in exchange for a small fee, which live close to the border with Estonia, are also a number of shortcomings observed in this system. What is the experience of a neighboring country to get to know Latvia?
Firstly, it must be said that it is not entirely true that the deposit system that collects some of the PET bottles and cans in Estonia would have eradicated the problem of derelict ditches or forests, as many emphasize – it is still current and every day well visible in our neighboring country. Despite the fact that certain types of beverage packaging can get 12 cents for example, many Estonian residents do not use this option – the amount to be recovered for some drinks seems too small and not worth it, others are the problem of transporting transferable packages to a reception point that is not always within reach. Expensive deposit vending machines are usually located in cities, in large stores, but in rural areas, where they are often replaced by a simple bundle point in a local store, the coverage of the deposit system is considerably smaller. Given the fact that only unpacked PET bottles can be deposited in the deposit system, even the most motivated Estonian people have to break their heads by returning the empty packaging in the house to the transfer point, because the dozens of non-plated PET bottles real place in the car or in public transport. By emphasizing the advantages and inconveniences to which the high-end must comply, not everyone has the determination to measure the distance to a few dozen kilometers.
Ensuring homogeneous regional coverage of the packet transfer points of the deposit system is a major problem in Estonia. Pourers are expensive and need extra storage space to store them so that the packages in the rural small stores store the system manually – just as during the Soviet Union glass bottles can be transferred. However, this approach does not always justify all expectations. In the popular tourist places, the small rural boutiques also have to accept bottles and cans that tourists have taken from the city. At times during peak season, these stores sometimes lead to a situation where retail expenses, when paying the deposit system, reward people for delivered bottles, even surpass store sales. An even greater challenge for the Estonians is to offer entry rooms in the border area where, due to the strong differences in tobacco products and alcohol prices, most people go to Latvia to shop and erode local stores by reducing the possibilities for the transfer of used packaging .
The situation is of course different in cities. It must be said that there is also a part of the population that is particularly active in the possibilities offered by the deposit system, so that the transfer of beverage packaging is a core activity. These enthusiasts, popularly known as sunshine or bombs, purposefully collect the empty packaging in the deposit system and regularly transfer it. Unfortunately, this seemingly positive trend has a shadowy side: for profit purposes, not only the packaging that is not omitted by someone is unloaded, but also in refuse containers, the content of which is dumped and the remaining waste ends up. Such a scene is often seen in both Estonian parks and other public places. In addition, not all packages can be transferred – the system contains only a small number of types of packaging on the shelves of the stores, and the deposit machine can only read and accept bottles with clearly visible, intact barcodes. Therefore, only a few PET bottles and cans are collected, while other types of packaging and a bottle of PET with damaged labels that are not suitable for transfer often pass through the ditches. It must therefore be admitted that, however much we want to think in Latvia, the deposit system is a panacea for environmental pollution problems, Estonia's experience does not confirm this.
When we talk to the environmentalists on the side of Valga, it often happens that natural pollution remains an important problem for the neighboring country, and the deposit system has not solved this problem. It is true that the deposit system has motivated some of the population to at least sort the used packaging, but it has not affected the company's negligence. In addition, the maintenance costs of the system are enormous. Every year, the deposit system in Estonia creates millions of euros, and they do not hide it themselves. To maintain the system, the state pays millions every year. A small part of the responsibility is borne by the Latvian border residents, who despite active restrictions have actively used the deposit system of a neighboring country, whereby PET bottles purchased in Latvia are transferred. In order to reduce the damage caused by the system, the Estonians have also suggested the idea of creating a joint Latvia-Estonian deposit system. It would still not help to solve the problem of environmental pollution, but would at least help reduce the damage to the system in Estonia.
If we critically assess Estonia's experience, we must say that Latvia can really learn a lot – only our statesmen have taken on this task a bit. Estonia is by no means an excellent example and proof of the effectiveness of the deposit system for reducing environmental pollution. Instead, Latvia could learn from the mistakes our neighbor made by introducing a specific deposit system model. I believe that the deposit system for accepting products from different materials for a small fee is a good way to motivate people to sort the waste, but I do not believe Estonia's approach is the most successful. If Latvia undertakes to introduce a deposit system, the smartest and most effective way to implement it is to choose it. Instead of investing in expensive vending machines, the existing waste management system needs to be improved. In my opinion, much more useful is the development of a regional waste collection area, an ecological area and a network of bunker networks, with the possibility of placing a broader range of recyclable material products at a symbolic cost in one place. People would be encouraged to sort not only bottles and cans, but also paper, plastic bags, milk packaging, plates, tapes, etc. It is also important to inform the public. Many environmental and waste management companies do it at their own pace, but public involvement here is vital.
The period before the elections is of course steeped in political passions and often in a rapid acceleration of decision-making, not entirely thoughtful decisions are taken in the battle for the electorate's voice. Indeed, I hope that the issue of the deposit system will not be one, because the problems in waste management in Latvia will not be solved, only new ones will be created. In order to achieve the set goals, it does not take much time, only to go into detail, clear vision and political will. Looking at the sector as a whole, identifying opportunities and extending existing solutions, we can set up an efficient system in Latvia that motivates people to make the most comprehensive recycling products available for processing, and also enables them to do everything in one place – without bringing PET bottles to the store, but paper and tapes – each to your point of origin.