Friday, 10 October 2008

Bottle & Can Deposit Schemes

A lot of countries in Europe (and probably elsewhere for all I know) have a deposit scheme in place when it comes to plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans. You pay a couple of pence extra on top of the normal price but when you take them back to the bottle and can banks you get that money back.

I first moved to Norway in 1980 where the system was already in place. Every large supermarket had an automated collection system that issued a payment slip that could either be exchange at the check out as payment for part of your shopping or as cash and the smaller supermarkets and grocery stores had manual systems. It worked. Far fewer bottles and cans are found littering the streets and countryside there (although that could also have something to do with a difference in mentality too) and they few that do get thrown away are foraged by those looking to earn themselves a few bob extra. Kids especially can generally be seen hunting through the litter bins at zoos, outdoor swimming pools, lakes, picnic areas and the likes, looking for discarded bottles and cans that they can get a themselves a bit of extra pocket money from. Sounds gross I guess but there isn’t usually any dangerous litter in the bins in those places.

When I was a kid we had a deposit system on glass bottles (I can’t remember plastic bottles being used at all then and cans still weren’t anywhere near as commonplace as they are now). I’m not sure when that disappeared but I imagine it was when plastic bottles and cans took over. But why not bring the deposit system back? Surely that would increase the number of bottles and cans that are recycled which in turn would lower the cost of production and, obviously, leave less of a footprint on the planet.

It seems odd to me that the UK - a place that likes to think of itself as one of the world leaders - isn’t doing something that simple.

Sharon J


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Debi said...

See? Said you were wise ...

There's a shop near us who do refills of Ecover products - 10p off the standard price, which in a way is the same sort of thing as a deposit.

The money is irrelevant - it's the not-chucking-away-the-old-one-and-replacing-it-with-a-new-one that attracts me.

neimanmarxist said...

in bolivia, where i grew up, you used to have to bring the empty bottles to the shop in order to get new ones full of product (coca-cola , usually) . i must say here in the states we pay a deposit for the cans but i never bring them to the bank, just leave them in my recycling bin and lose the $.40 cents.

R said...

I remember getting money back on Corona bottles back in the 70's, not only did it encourage people to return the empties, but kids would scour hedgerows and gutters for empty bottles to 'earn' money, thus reducing litter to some extent. Definitely agree the system should be revived. Rx

Sharon J said...

@ Debi. The money is irrelevant to me too but I'm pretty sure it'd be an incentive to many and anything that helps get more people reusing/recycling has to be a good thing. I've yet to find anywhere here that refills Ecover bottles, though.

@ Neimanmarxist. Whether you take them back or put them in the recycling bin, at least they're not going to the landfill :)

@ R. Yes, I remember the Corona bottles. A lorry used to come round selling it and we'd all take our empties back.

Anonymous said...

Yes, when I was travelling in NA you got money back for milk bottles (plastic), cans, bottles etc. About 5-10 pence each. It was certainly motivating ;)

Sharon J said...

NA? Where's that. I haven't a clue.