Romania launches “world’s largest centralized DRS”

Romania has launched a centralized Deposit Return System with almost 80,000 collection points, said to be the world’s largest. The East European nation joins other 13 EU countries that have launched deposit return schemes (DRS) with the aim of increasing collection and recycling rates of single-use beverage containers.

The Romanian DRS system uses a software solution from Sensoneo, a technology company based in Slovakia. The software forms the backbone of the entire system, says Sensoneo, as it integrates all stakeholders and gathers data from all sources within the process chain. Deposit Return Schemes increase the purity of material collected, leading to materials’ circularity and reduction of CO2 emissions. The Romanian scheme will cover plastic, glass, and metal beverage containers ranging from 0.1 to 3 Liters. The deposit per bottle will be 0.5 Romanian lei (approximately 0.1 €).

All legal entities that produce, import, or sell beverages in single-use containers are obliged to participate in the scheme. The official launch date of the scheme 30 November 2023. As Sensoneo puts it, the Deposit Return System in Romania “aims to achieve global prominence as the most comprehensive integrated system, distinguished by its remarkable complexity.” Numerous complex challenges were overcome to reach this point, encompassing issues such as equipment setup, software integration, and the choice of appropriate locations for regional centres.

The system operator is RetuRO, a consortium that combines private entities (associations of beverage producers and retailers) and a public body (the Romanian Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests). RetuRO will manage around seven billion beverage containers annually with Romania something of a laggard in Europe when it comes to the rate of recycling. As Cristian Mihai, IT Director of RetuRO, explained: “Despite many challenges, we managed to implement a very complex system in an unbelievably short time. We are talking about an extremely complex, modular system, which will have to not only support the information received from almost 80,000 economic operators but also correlate identification, stock, return, collection, invoicing, and reporting data for almost 7 billion packages. The novelty and the revolutionary nature of this system make it equally exciting and provocative.”

The technology behind the Romanian DRS
According to Sensoneo, it designed “a unique and ready-to-integrate IT system for DRS that can be adapted to any specific needs of different countries and is agnostic with any return vending machine.”

“In the preliminary phase, Sensoneo provided a market-mapping tool that enabled the most efficient DRS implementation including digital data collection and analysis from all entities, registration of entities and their beverages into the system, and automated digital contracting.”

Sensoneo’s full DRS system includes modules for every activity, encompassing preparation, operation, and reporting. The main modules of the system comprise: the web portal for producers and retailers, the packaging register, the collection points register, the ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, the reporting system, the document management system, interfaces with other systems (RVM, counting and sorting centers), and mobile applications. All these modules are hosted on Microsoft Azure Cloud infrastructure which provides unlimited performance scaling opportunities and a high level of security protection.

The modules reflect specific requirements and needs and completely fulfill each stakeholder’s obligations, said Sensoneo. Martin Basila, CEO and Co-Founder of Sensoneo: “We are very proud to take an important part in building the world’s largest integrated Deposit Return System. We are thrilled to contribute to this groundbreaking initiative with our cutting-edge software tailored to customer’s unique demands. Sensoneo is committed to providing innovative solutions that align seamlessly with the intricate requirements of this monumental project, and we look forward to playing a pivotal role in the success of the Romanian Deposit Return System.”

Sensoneo has amassed significant experience with Deposit Return Schemes and is currently the only DRS integrator that operates in five European countries (providing the central infrastructure for the entire DRS system in Slovakia, Malta, Ireland, and Hungary – and now Romania). The system deployed in Slovakia currently supports 93% recycling rates.