Empty beer bottles might soon be piling up with other rubbish, as glass recycling rules are set to change in 2012.
Glass containers used for alcoholic beverages and baby food are to be banned from being used again by being refilled, as part of new Customs Union regulations. Alternative recycling technologies make collecting bottles unattractive for many.
“The price for bottles that are melted down for reuse is just one-tenth of that of unbroken bottles [that can be re-filled], and people just might give it up,” said Anton Kuznetsov, head of the Sfera Ekologii company, in an interview with the Moscow News.
Kuznetsov’s company, which is in charge of collecting and separating rubbish for recycling in Moscow, has several collection points in Moscow, and socially disadvantaged people are the main clients who deliver bottles there.
“It will be more profitable for them to collect cans,” he said. He added that there was some hope that the more progressive middle class might step in to fill the gap.
“During the past few years I noticed a huge surge of interest coming from people who have developed a responsible attitude towards recycling,” he said.
The government, however, is rather keen to encourage companies to recycle containers and other packaging that their products come in.
A new bill obliging manufacturers to be responsible for recycling has been submitted to the State Duma and is to be discussed by its ecological committee, Sergei Karaulov, aide to the committee’s head Yevgeny Tugolukhov, told the Moscow News.
Currently Russian alcohol manufacturers don’t seem to be concerned about recycling and companies legally producing vodka don’t re-use any bottles, Vedomosti reported.
Currently 30-35 percent of beer is sold in glass bottles, and some breweries recycle bottles as a part of their environmental program.
Major beer manufacturer Baltika is one of the few breweries that has yet to give up refilling bottles. The company reuses 38 percent of its bottles, Alexei Kedrin, Baltika’s representative, told Vedomosti.
In Europe, where 67 percent of all glass is recycled, financial gains are quite important, WWF’s Yelena Smirnova believes. In Russia, however, people need to become self-motivated for the recycling process to take off.