How to recycle empty bottles and profit from their recycling

Next week, a fleet of 320 reverse vending machines will go online, enabling customers to dump empty drink containers in return for a 10c reimbursement.


The initiative is being operated by BCRS, a partnership comprised of some of Malta’s top beverage distributors, to guarantee that recyclable material is processed and recycled.


According to CEO Edward Chetcuti, the nation generates over 230 million drink containers each year, only about 20% of which are recycled.


The beverage return container initiative intends to recycle 90% of the material it receives.


Despite the fact that the firm is non-profit, Chetcuti believes that mass involvement may help Malta accomplish its waste reduction targets and build the circular economy.


“We want to give customers trust that this material will be recycled and that it will enhance our performance,” he added.


“This will have a significant influence on the environment, so we really need to get everyone on board to make a difference.”


The regulations governing the bottle return system were implemented in 2020, in part to meet the requirements of an EU directive against plastic packaging.


The idea is to aid distributors in collecting packaging while also assisting the nation in meeting its recycling targets.


Importers and distributors must now pay an administrative fee and register each and every drink product they sell.


They are also charged an extra 10c each container, which is levied by wholesalers to retailers, who then charge it to customers.


How does it function?


Any beverage container registered with the BCRS will be accepted by the reverse vending machines. The machine recognises the shape, weight, and substance of the container based on the barcode information and distributes it appropriately.


If the incorrect container is inserted into the machine, it will not be processed and an error notice will appear on the screen.


The machine prints a receipt, which may be redeemed at a beverage merchant or given to charity.


Every day, the machines are emptied and transported to the processing plant in al Far, where they are processed and disinfected before being crushed into cubes ready for recycling.


What are the containers?


The BCRS system now accepts glass, plastic, and tin can containers. Water, soft drinks, energy drinks, beers and ciders, dilutables, flavoured drinks, and ready-to-drink coffee might have been included.


The containers do not need to be cleaned, but they must be empty and undamaged. Smashed plastic bottles will not be accepted by the machine.


In order for the system to record the barcode, it must stay intact on the product.


To ensure the containers keep their form, they should be recycled with the cap still on.


Certain glass bottles, notably for wines and spirits and preserve jars, as well as cartons or pouches for juice and dairy products, will not be accepted by the machine.


The container’s barcode may be entered here to see whether the machine will accept it.


What happened to the machines?


There are 320 reverse vending machines located across the islands, including every supermarket in Malta and Gozo.


Refunds from supermarket machines may only be redeemed in that particular supermarket or its other locations. Receipts generated by public machines may be redeemed at any retailer.


A map of the machine locations is available.


Can’t I simply use grey garbage bags?


Yes. There is no compulsion to participate in this plan, however it is a 10c loss each bottle.


Recycled bottles will also benefit charitable organisations, with the first batch of donated refunds due to arrive in l-Istrina at the end of the year.


To collect containers, hotels and restaurants throughout the nation have their own direct service arrangement with BCRS.