Indicators and characteristics of PET packaging collected in a Deposit and Refund System pilot project

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Countries that have a Deposit and Refund System (DRS) show high rates of selective beverage packaging waste collection, indicating that it is a powerful economic instrument for achieving the European packaging recycling targets. DRS ensure that collected material is of a sufficiently high quality to be incorporated into new products. In Portugal, the Government has decided to implement a DRS for non-reusable beverage packaging as a strategy to increase the packaging recycling rate, which is currently considerably lower than the mandatory European targets. To acquire knowledge and experience for the design and implementation of the future DRS, a pilot project was carried out with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage packaging, using 23 Reverse Vending Machines (RVM) installed at supermarkets across mainland Portugal. The authors monitored the DRS pilot project between March 2020 and December 2022. The main objectives were to determine operational indicators and evaluate the characteristics and quality of the PET deposited, using both the data recorded by the RVM and a characterisation of the packages contained in a sample of 46 bags. The results provided important data for planning the Portuguese strategy, which may also support operational or political decisions in countries in similar contexts. Whilst the recycling plants that received the material collected in these RVM confirmed that its quality allows for the production of PET food-grade flakes, this research identified a need to improve the design of packaging and to communicate this with producers, to better allow for the incorporation of recycled material into food beverage packaging.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25182
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2024


  • Deposit refund system (DRS)
  • Operational indicators
  • Packaging waste
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles
  • Reverse vending machines (RVM)


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