PantaPåsen wants to close the loop for packaging. To provide a financial incentive, the company is launching a deposit-return system. The system is managed via a digital platform, making it easy to use for both consumers and brand owners.

”We have developed a deposit system based on a digital platform to make it easy to recycle packaging. The purpose is to make the monetary value of recycling visible, and to modernize the recycling industry. Returning packaging should be simple and merge with everyday life”, says Suwar Mert, CEO of PantaPåsen.

”Billions of units of packaging is used in Sweden every year. Unfortunately, too many of them fall out of the loop and end up as litter”.

Fewer plastic bags in the EU

Sweden has a high return rate for cans and bottles; a smart deposit system to recycle the material from general packaging is the next step, according to Suwar Mert, PantaPåsen.

Plastic waste in nature and in the oceans is widely considered a major environmental issue. Carrier bags are often held up as a symbol for littering, and the EU has declared that the consumption of plastic bags should be cut in half by 2025. The Swedish government has set up an investigation to come up with additional measures to reduce the environmental impact from plastic waste. According to Karolina Skog, Minister for the Environment, the investigation has a wide mandate to suggest measures, such as prohibition, taxes and deposit systems for various goods. Many countries have chosen to introduce a fee on plastic bags, but Suwar Mert believes the deposit system is important as a complement.

”We want to provide an incentive to consumers to recycle their packaging. Deposit systems for aluminum cans, glass and PET bottles are long-established, so why wouldn’t we be able to collect a large part of the billions of pieces of packaging that are produced every year? Many of us already have a habit of bringing our packaging to the disposal facility. We began to experiment with different solutions a couple of years ago. It became obvious that brand owners would have to be on board from the start”, Suwar Mert says.

”The deposit system assigns a value to packaging and makes it a visible part of the loop. The deposit fee makes sure that it is valued, similarly to PET bottles and cans. The core of the system is the digital platform and app that we have developed and filed a patent for. The platform makes it easy for consumers and brand owners to participate, without forcing brand owners to implement new complex systems, routines or process changes to collect the returns”.

”PantaPåsen has received a lot of positive attention from consumers, but convincing brand owners to participate is still a challenge; no one wants to be the first to evaluate a new concept. A common fear is that consumers may interpret the deposit fee as a cost increase, and react adversely. We have the opposite view, and we have conducted a pilot project together with Teknikmagasinet on Liljeholmen in Stockholm. It worked neatly for both the customers, the store and us”.

”The first brand owners to adopt a deposit system actually have a lot to gain; the company demonstrates that it is serious about sustainable development, and makes a contribution towards the zero-waste circular economy. They also reduce the association between their brand and littering, since less packaging carrying their name will be left in nature”, Suwar says.

How PantaPåsen works

The customer is payed through the app, and the packaging is collected and sent to a recycling company.

”The packaging connected to the system will carry a barcode. You pay a deposit fee when you purchase the packaging, and when you return it to the recycling facility, you use the PantaPåsen app to read the barcode. The fee is returned through the app, and the money is yours to use or transfer”.

”The app and the digital platform makes it easy to collect the refunds. Users can choose whether to receive the money or give it to charity. We want packaging to have a monetary value, so it does not end up in nature. Even if it does, the return value would make sure that it is picked up. The system creates an incentive to recycle more”, Suwar Mert says.

”Every year, 1.7 billion cans and PET bottles are collected in Sweden – close to 80 percent of the ones sold. With a deposit-return system, the true cost is visible, making you think twice when you buy the packaging and to dispose of it responsibly. We can close the loop for billions of pieces of packaging, and make a large contribution to circularity”, Suwar Mert says.

The article was published in March 2018.