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Partnership for more PET-Recycling

In Italy, Interzero has joined forces with non-profit COREPLA to set up a pilot project for a deposit return scheme focusing on PET bottles. It’s been a runaway success.

Germany has a long history of deposit systems for beverage bottles, with the deposit on nonrefillable PET bottles actively helping to reduce plastic waste, for example, while reclaiming raw materials for high-quality bottle-to-bottle recycling. The introduction of bottle return systems has also been gaining pace in other European countries. Ultimately, the aim is to meet the ambitious EU collection targets while preparing for a proposed EU-wide mandatory deposit scheme from 2028. Countries who have yet to enshrine a deposit return scheme in national law include Italy and Poland. In both countries, Interzero is helping local actors to close the necessary loops — by providing advice, sharing experience and working on specific projects.

Interzero partnered with COREPLA, the leading national consortium for the collection and recycling of plastic packaging, to introduce RecoPet, an ambitious, nationwide pilot project on a voluntary basis across Italy in 2022. Here, Interzero’s business partner aimed to achieve an extensive collection system, traceability for the PET flows and scalability for the chosen solution. As a first step, more than 100 reverse vending machines were set up on the premises of large retailers. To motivate consumers to return their empty PET bottles, Interzero also developed an app, which shoppers can use to collect bonus points that they can then redeem for coupons.

The project was an immediate success: by the end of 2023, Italy achieved an impressive collection rate of 78 percent of PET bottles on the market — surpassing the EU requirement for 2025 of 77 percent. COREPLA received funding from the EU to expand existing capacities; within three years, 1,000 more deposit return machines will be installed in retail stores. And Interzero Italy also benefits: “We have created a real win-win partnership that strengthens our strategic position while demonstrating our proven expertise in innovative business solutions,” says Sergio Patacchini, Project Manager Interzero Circular Solutions Italy. The collected experiences provide a solid foundation to successfully roll out the project further — and potentially also to support the implementation of a national return system.


"We have created a real win-win partnership that strengthens our strategic position while demonstrating our proven expertise in innovative business solutions."

Sergio Patacchini Project Manager, Interzero Italien

The RecoPet app developed by Interzero gives consumers an additional incentive to return empty PET bottles to the cycle as they can now collect points and receive rewards and discounts in return. All they have to do is download the app, dispose of their bottles in the reverse vending machine and then scan the barcode on the display. Points earned can be redeemed at participating retailers. The available rewards also include items made from recycled PET — for example sweatshirts or backpacks.


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