Getting Paid To Recycle? The Taromatas Of Lithuania
Every country approaches recycling differently. Some places have something called a single-stream recycling system where all recyclable material is collected together and sorted at a facility. Other cities may collect things separately, requiring you to sort your own recycling. And, of course, other places don’t have any recycling programs at all.
In Lithuania the recycling of beverage containers appears to be quite standard with automated kiosks setup everywhere to accept cans and bottles. The name for this is a taromatas and it’s the country’s automated bottle deposit refund system.
Background & General Information
Most of Lithuania’s beverage containers work on a deposit-refund system. You buy a bottle of juice, or a can of beer, and for each container, customers are charged 10 cents in addition to the price you see on the pricetag.
This is a deposit. And to get your deposit back, you have to return that container. The taromatas is Lithuania’s way of efficiently and conveniently getting containers back and deposits refunded.
This system officially came into effect on February 1st, 2016. A December 2015 article by AINA.lt talked about how the Maxima supermarket chain was intensely training its employees so that they would be familiar enough with the system to offer assistance to members of the public.
“it is important for us to know the system well ourselves and to be ready to help, explain and teach, to answer all the questions that arise for our customers”, said the manager of Maxima Lithuania at the time.
Apparently, this type of system has been available in Sweden for many years now – and a March 2016 article by Delfi talked about how the use of this Scandinavian system is something that Lithuania can benefit from – particularly in terms of waste management and material recovery.
So, many years have passed since this system was implemented. And, at least in Vilnius, it would seem that pretty much every single supermarket, big or small, has a taromatas either inside of it, or outside, located in the parking lot.
How this all works
1. Is your container eligible?
For those new to Lithuania, or unfamiliar with the system, you’ll need to make sure that whatever container you have is eligible to be accepted by the machine. So, first look for the symbol (below) on the side of the container.
Generally speaking, containers of beer, cider, water, gira and other non-alcoholic drinks are accepted. However, there was a plan to accept aluminum and plastic containers for wine, cocktails, cold coffee, and syrups starting in 2023.
2. Find a machine
Next, head over to your supermarket of choice and find the taromatas. Ideally, you want to choose the supermarket you most often buy your groceries from (this is explained further down).
Once you find a functioning machine, you can just start putting eligible cans and bottles in – bottom-end first. You COULD first press the English language button, but all of it is so simple and intuitive that you can probably survive with the default Lithuanian language setting too.
With every container accepted, your total refund accumulates – 10 cents at a time.
When you’re finished, just press the big green button and the machine will print out a paper ticket with the amount and a barcode. This little slip can be spent like money at the supermarket that issued it, OR you can also take it to the supermarket’s customer service counter to get it converted to cash.
Additional tips and advice
- Don’t leave the bottles with any type of liquid
- Make sure the bottles and cans aren’t flat/severely dented, or else the machine won’t take them
- Check where the taromatas is ahead of time. It could be inside the supermarket, or in a detached structure. It’s especially important if you have many containers to return.
- Bottles with a missing label may be refused because they cannot be identified
- Foreign bottles are not accepted.
- If a brewery goes out of business, you’ll lose the deposit for any bottles you still have from that brand.
- With some machines, you can donate the deposit to charity rather than having it paid out- simply select Aukoti (Donate) instead of Išmoka (Payout)
- Plan your trip time carefully or else plan to wait in line. Sometimes people show up with multiple bags and can take well-over 15 minutes doing their own business.
More information can be found at: https://grazintiverta.lt/en/
What is can and bottle recycling like where you live? Is it similar or very different? Let me know by leaving a comment!