BCRS - What does it mean for me in Malta

BCRS - What does it mean for me in Malta

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Launching on 14th November in Malta is the BCRS Scheme which stands for the Beverage Container Recycling Scheme an in this article we will show you all you need to know about BCRS Malta.

Some people have referred to the scheme as the Beverage Container Refund Scheme but although that is what it does, it is really a Recycling Scheme with the refund being a consumer incentive for using the scheme.

How BCRS in Malta works?

When you purchase a beverage container you pay the vendor an extra 10c on the price of the beverage. Then you take the empty containers back to one of the 320 BCRS machines, deposit it in the machine, and receive a voucher for 10c to be spent in retailers that sell beverages.

What is BCRS Malta for?

Malta lags behind on it's commitment to the EU for the amount of recycling from the waste generated, so we produce too much waste that is not recycled.

So Malta must recycle more and the BCRS scheme is designed to incentivise consumers to recycle more by imposing a deposit on certain types of containers that are most recyclable. In other countries this has contributed to very high recycling rates.

BCRS Ltd a non profit scheme operator owned by the "Malta Beverage Producers Association" , "Malta Beverage Importers Association and the "Malta Beverages Retailers Association" a consortium of the largest importers and distributors of these containers is the operator of the scheme under license from Circular Economy Malta, which is under the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Enterprise in Malta.

BCRS Ltd operates the scheme, sorts and then sells the recycled materials into the market in Malta, from which it is normally exported for processing in another country.

The 300 BCRS machines known as RVM's (Reverse Vending Machines) are from a Dutch supplier, Envipco, and will be maintained in Malta by Joseph Cachia & Son Ltd.

What beverage containers are part of the BCRS scheme in Malta?

Single use beverage containers up to 3L (and more than 100ml) that are made of plastic, metal or glass and contain:

  • water and flavoured water
  • carbonated soft drinks
  • ready to drink coffee
  • concentrated drinks to be diluted
  • non-carbonated soft drinks
  • ciders and beers (all malted drinks)
  • flavoured alcoholic drinks with less than 5% alcohol

The BCRS machines - some important facts

  • You can locate one of the 300 machines on this BCRS map that shows the BCRS location.
  • If a RVM (Reverse Vending Machine) is on a supermarket site then you will be issued vouchers that can only be spent at that supermarket, or another supermarket in the same chain.
  • Your containers must be whole - not crushed or damaged
  • The container's cap is best left on (more plastic to recycle) but you should still get a refund of 10c without it
  • The RVM machine will reject any container that is not suitable, thus the wrong type or size, or without a valid barcode - such as those containers on the market over 2 years old and prior to the scheme starting.
  • One can deposit 50 bottles at once before being prompted to print a ticket (50 bottles= €5.00), meaning that one does not need to print a voucher after every single deposited container

How do I know the retailer is not just keeping the 10c deposit?

  • All retailers of beverages should be registered with the scheme and operating under the guidelines, so here is how you can tell.
  • All retail outlets selling beverages are obliged to have a system in place for the return of beverage containers by the consumer.
  • Larger retailers may host a RVM machine (see above)
  • Other retailers may register for the Public Recycling Hub Network, this way they can accept vouchers from consumers that have been issued at the public RVM's (those not on a supermarket chain site for instance).
  • The 10c deposit should be shown separately on a receipt or invoice given to you by the vendor as "'BCRS Refundable deposit" or "BCRS Ref. Dep."
  • VAT is not payable on the 10c so you should not be charged VAT on the 10c deposit
  • The vendor should show the BCRS Registration Number on the receipt
  • Any vouchers redeemed during a sale will be shown as "BCRS Deposit Refund" on the receipt
  • Retailers should display the total price including the 10c deposit, the final price you pay. They must also indicate the deposit you are paying on the container. So for a multipack the total deposit will be indicated.
  • Retailers can follow the guidelines issued by BCRS Ltd (See example receipt below from this document)
Example receipt showing BCRS refund

Can the retailer just take my beverage containers back themselves?

  • Yes, indeed they can! They can operate a manual collection themselves. In fact by law they must do this at the very minimum.
  • Retailers may collect and store containers and take them to a public RVM, they will be registered with BCRS, get a card and their card will be "charged" with the deposit credit when they deposit containers.
  • Retailers may also collect and store in special labelled bags that are collected by BCRS and then the deposits credited to the retailers account.
  • This means they can charge you the deposit when you buy and give you the deposit back when you take containers to them - so they act like an RVM and will get the deposit back themselves from BCRS directly as a payment.
  • Retailers get charged 0.01c per container as a handling charge if operating one of the manual collection systems.
  • They have the right to refuse to accept any containers that are contaminated, not part of the scheme or purchased over 2 years ago or have a barcode that does not match the BCRS database.
  • The retailer can use the BCRS app (only available to registered retailers) which validates the container and is used to accept vouchers issued by public RVMs and then manually deduct the refund amount against your bill.

How does BCRS Scheme in Malta work at catering establishments?

It works slightly different for take-away and on-premises service.

For take away the catering establishment follows the same guidelines as a retailer as described above.

For on-premises dining, here is what you need to know:

  • the beverage container must remain at the premises
  • in this case the deposit is not charged and the establishment will handle the return of the container and will have paid, and receipt the deposit.
  • the catering establishment must show its BCRS registration on its fiscal receipts.

Can I make money from the BCRS in Malta?

It is entirely misleading to suggest that you will make any money from your own consumption of single use plastic. You will pay a deposit which you then receive back, so there is no advantage to you and no way to make money from your own consumption.

However, if you collect single use plastic containers that qualify for the scheme and return them to one of the RVM as part of the BCRS scheme in Malta then yes, the vouchers are yours to use at a retailer to refund money from your bill.

It is important to note that you will only make money from qualifying beverage containers with a valid bar code. But it is still good news for anyone that picks up the discarded single use plastic, glass and metal which gives us all an extra opportunity and incentive to help keep Malta clean.

Free 19L water from supermarkets

What about supermarkets free water - how does BCRS work with that?

For qualifying containers and beverages there is no difference, a 10c deposit and refund still applies.

This means that to keep the water "free" supermarkets may give you a refillable 19L container of water for your points, probably trying to want you to be happy that you are getting 19L instead of 12L (a 2L bottle 6 pack) for your points which is "better value" and better for the environment. It's neither of course, just marketing BS and no good for the environment because your still "paying" for transport, cleaning, logistics and branding instead of just turning on the TAPP.

Your 200 points is work €1.47 for 19L is now costing you €1.47 because you could swop your points for something else instead. That means its early 0.08c a litre, so its 4 times more expensive than TAPP Water which is 0.02c a litre.

Using TAPP Water you could be up to €248 better off every year if you are using points for drinking water.

3 ways to avoid the BCRS scheme in Malta

You can avoid having lots of empty plastic bottles to take back to an BCRS RVM in Malta by avoiding using plastic bottles for drinking water. As most people in Malta do not like to drink tap water then using a TAPP Water filter makes sure you are drinking high quality great tasting tap water at just 0.02c per litre.

Avoid buying plastic bottles for drinking water whilst on the go by using the TAPP Water Bottle Pro - it's a refillable stainless steel vacuum flask with its own water filter inside. Much less hassle than making sure you keep hydrated and have to carry around your empties until you find somewhere to get them refunded.

If you are partial to take away coffee the just buy a reusable coffee cup, personally I have a stainless steel one and it works great although it's a little hot sometimes but I just ask the barista to make it at a good temperature but you can find a number of alternatives.

You could also consider getting a water delivery in Malta which would be in containers that are outside the BCRS scheme, but this would be considerably more expensive and take up lots of space.

You can find more FAQs about BCRS on their website 

Image Credit: BCRS

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