Social evaluation of a Deposit and Refund System pilot project for polyethylene terephthalate packaging

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The Deposit and Refund System (DRS) has demonstrated its effectiveness as a powerful economic instrument to help to achieve the European targets for packaging waste recycling, whilst simultaneously ensuring the collection of higher-quality materials for the production of new beverage bottles. In Portugal, a pilot DRS project focusing on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage packaging was implemented by the government to gain insights and experience before the introduction of the mandatory system, which will include other materials. The pilot project involved 23 Reverse Vending Machines (RVM) in supermarkets across mainland Portugal, with a questionnaire assessing behaviour changes in users and non-users. Results from 1,490 responses indicated significant public support for the future DRS and its extension to other packaging materials. Various incentives were applied to the DRS to understand the effects throughout the pilot. The economic incentive proved key to the pilot's success, as it motivated consumers to participate, actively recycling. Consequently, it is expected that the DRS will increase recycling participation rates. Two other factors that contributed to the success of the DRS were the location of the RVM and the effectiveness of communication with the public, impacting their perception of and engagement with the system. The results provided important data for planning the future national strategy, which may also be of interest to other similar realities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100894
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Challenges
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Packaging waste
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle
  • Reverse Vending Machine (RVM)
  • Social impact of a Deposit Refund System (DRS)


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