‘We are proposing government financial aid to waive product registration fee’ – BCRS Ltd CEO

BCRS Ltd CEO, Edward Chetcuti

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 February, 2022 at 9:02 am by Andre Camilleri

BCRS Ltd responds to small players’ complaints, in letter sent to minister. CEO EDWARD CHETCUTI speaks to Dayna Camilleri Clarke

A company that will launch Malta’s bottle recycling scheme has offered to waive a product registration fee that small-scale operators say will bankrupt them, providing government provides them with financial assistance. In an open letter to Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, BCRS Ltd said that it proposed to government to “provide a financial contribution” to its capital expenditures and waive a €230,000 annual licencing fee for the first year of operation. BCRS was responding to a letter sent to the minister by several small-scale beverage importers and producers last week, in which they warned that the €100 per-beverage-type fee would financially disable them and cut them out of the market.

Speaking to The Malta Business Weekly, BCRS Ltd CEO, Edward Chetcuti, explained that BCRS Malta Ltd would like all businesses, small and large, to actively participate in the scheme… in fact, many were consulted along the way.

“We have heard their concerns and wish to address them immediately. We are working closely with government proposing to waive the product registration fees. Naturally, we want the scheme to be a success from the launch in April. This is a huge project for the islands, like nothing we have seen before. Over 300 high tech digital bottle return vending banks are already on their way to the islands. It’s going to be a huge change in the way we see recycling.”

In reply to concerns raised, Chetcuti said that the scheme also includes administration fees based on the number of beverage containers placed on the market. It defended a decision to leave wines and spirits out of the scheme, saying this was in line with other countries with similar successful models. Chetcuti noted that operating the system would require an IT network linking 350 vending machines together with a secured database of registered beverage containers. He said the €100 fee “should actually be higher” but said the entity would be willing to waive the payment if government:

1.         Agrees to properly enforce the system to ensure all beverage importers complied with the system;

2.         Waives a €230,000 annual licencing fee due in the first year of operation;

3.         Financially contributes to BCRS’ capital expenditure, which it said has topped €17m without benefitting from EU funding; and

4.         Helps BCRS with its public education campaigns

As of April, BCRS the Beverage Container Refund Scheme will come into effect nationwide: “The scheme is intended to close the loop on the production cycle of single-use beverage bottles and cans. Across the world, tonnes of single-use beverage containers are produced each year, with a great amount of them ending up being disposed of in less than careful ways; polluting our seas and the environment at large. The Beverage Container Refund Scheme will address this by actively incentivising their return for a refund, effectively translating a problem into an opportunity – the waste will then become a resource,” said Chetcuti.

BCRS Malta Ltd is the licensed operator for Malta’s upcoming Beverage Container Refund Scheme – a not-for-profit company incorporated by three associations representing Malta’s beverage market – the Malta Beverage Producers Association, the Malta Beverage Importers Association and the Malta Beverage Retailers Association. The company will assume the responsibility for the nationwide return of beverage container single-use waste on behalf of producers, retailers and catering undertakings. To achieve this goal, BCRS Malta Ltd is investing over €17m in private capital infrastructure for a front-end and back-end beverage container recycling system.

In addition, the company is developing a facility at Ħal Far to process the recycled beverage containers, which it will then be entitled to sell overseas.

When asked how exactly it will impact shoppers, Chetcuti replied: “The Beverage Container Refund Scheme will incentivise the return of single-use beverage containers by applying a refundable deposit of €0.10c on the sale of eligible beverages. These include water, carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, ciders, beers, ready to drink coffee and dilutables in glass, PET or metal bottles and cans.”

A network of Reverse Vending Machines shall be available to consumers all over Malta and Gozo for returns of beverage containers, acting as the front-end of this innovative beverage container recycling system powered by the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology. These Reverse Vending Machines will be available at supermarkets and many other public locations.”

“What’s more? The scheme will create new jobs locally,” concluded Chetcuti. The Beverage Container Refund Scheme plans to achieve high recycling targets, aiming for 90% returns of all beverage containers by 2026.

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