17. 12. 2021

Hidden detail of PET bottle backup

Kateřina Kodadová in an interview with Pavel Březina

The problem with the PET bottle backup system as promoted by big players such as Mattoni or Kofola is that it should be mandatory and therefore universal. Kateřina Kodadová talks about what the introduction of a mandatory system would mean for consumers, municipalities and the environment in an interview with Pavel Březina, chairman of the Association of Czech Traditional Trade and chairman of the board of the Association of Czech and Moravian Consumer Cooperatives, known as COOP.

KK - You look at the topic of backup from the perspective of the small shops you cover and from the perspective of their customers. Do you see anything positive in the system of mandatory PET bottle backup? 

PB - There are many positive things about the backup system. For beverage producers. There is nothing positive for the customer, there is nothing positive for the retailer, and saddest of all, there is nothing positive for the environment. That is probably the key information. 

KK - What would mandatory backup do to the sorting of plastics as such? 

PB - I think it follows from that. People are going to be putting away separately at home the fivers, which they will have to get back to the shop somehow, and they should be putting away separately the other plastic packaging, which logically will be less, you will keep it at home longer and maybe the dairy residue will start to work in it, smell in it, then I'm afraid people will start throwing these other plastics into the mixed municipal waste and plastic sorting as a whole will go down. 

KK - If a mandatory backup system were somehow approved, what would it mean for consumers? 

PB - First of all, I hope that this will not happen, and most importantly, that it will not be a legislative addition to the law, because then we would end up in a similar situation as Slovakia is in now. There, the system was hastily enacted on 1 January 2022 and I think the logistics are absolutely unprepared, it is literally a tragedy. However, even if the enactment of the mandatory system were ready, the impact on customers would be significant and I expect that small producers would also be significantly affected. Firstly, in that it would make beverages visually more expensive and thus lose their attractiveness, but above all, I see the impact from the very nature of the system, which is inconvenient for people, threatens the existing sorting system and will ultimately lead to an overall decline in the sorting of plastic packaging, and is also environmentally unfriendly and creates an unnecessary carbon footprint and burden on the environment. 

KK - You don't agree with mandatory backup, so how do you as a COOP motivate customers to be environmentally friendly?

PB - For us, localism is typical. We even calculate the "bread journey" or "beer journey", or we calculate how few kilometres a product travels to our store. Our concept of local is that when we support, for example, a producer from the Highlands, it means that we only sell his products in the Highlands and we don't transport them across the country, because we have local suppliers in every region. We offer additional services so that people don't have to travel to bigger cities, for example to visit an ATM. If they need to withdraw cash, they can do it with us when they pay for their purchase. In short, doing things simply, locally. A mandatory deposit system goes against that logic.

You can find the unabridged interview in the podcast. PODCAST21 opens up topics related to the environment, recycling, landfill ban, circular economy and environmental challenges in general. It brings another perspective, often different from the so-called mainstream or media-dominated one. This is also the case in the very first podcast, which discusses the possible consequences of mandatory PET bottle backup.

You can find the podcast on the usual podcast apps, such as Spotify or Google Podcasts,
or on the ČAObH youtube channel

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