Reloop Resources

Deposit return systems:The difference between flat-and variable-rate schemes

According to our knowledge of existing programmes, as well as programmes that are committed to but not yet operational, it is reasonable to predict that by the end of 2026, deposit return systems (DRSs) will be in place in more than 70 jurisdictions worldwide, up from 48 in 2020.

When it comes to the design of a new DRS, one of the key topics of debate is whether the system should adopt a flat-rate (sometimes called ‘fixed-rate) or variable deposit fee. In a flat-rate DRS, all drinks containers – regardless of beverage type, volume, or container material – are subject to the same deposit. By contrast, a variable-rate system, is one where deposit levels can vary by container volume or material type, or both. In some variable-rate systems, deposit levels can also vary by beverage type.

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