The UK government appears to be set to rule out the implementation of a deposit scheme for plastic bottles of the type which has boosted collection rates of drinks containers in Norway to 96% and 98.5% in Germany.
The proposal would have seen the introduction of a 10p or 20p surcharge on bottles and cans, with consumers receiving their money back if they return the empties to collection points in stores.
The paper said that officials working for Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom have not been impressed with a trial deposit scheme in Scotland. It went on to cite an unnamed source who had reportedly said that there was 'significant uncertainties' over the evidence, and that the proposal was now 'unlikely' but 'not off the table'.
According to London based First Mile, which specialised in helping businesses recycle more, the move is dangerous in two respects. Firstly is said that there is evidence across Europe that deposit schemes work.
However, the firm went on to note that there is already infrastructure in place to deal with plastic recycling in the UK and said that glass is the bigger problem that government ministers must seek to address.
Bruce Bratley, CEO of First Mile commented:
“The evidence from across Europe shows that deposit schemes work. However, it’s easy to recycle plastic bottles in mixed recycling, and the infrastructure is already in place to do this here. In this sense, this plastic bottle deposit scheme would be solving a problem that doesn’t need to be solved.
“Glass bottles is where the bigger problem lies in the UK and is particularly valuable because glass can be recycled over and over again. The problem with glass bottles is that when they go into mixed recycling they’re hard to separate; they get broken and there’s clear, brown and green glass to sort.
“In Sweden this is already happening and if we don’t start a glass bottle scheme in the UK, we’re in danger of falling behind. In fact, recent figures put the UK in tenth place among the top-ranked municipal waste recyclers in Europe.
“A deposit scheme is an opportunity to instil a sense of accountability for the environment amongst individuals and businesses because every generation is meant to be greener than the last. However, we have to make recycling simple and prioritise what needs an incentive and what doesn’t.”
Bottle Deposits Responsible for High PET Recycling Rate in Germany
German trade association, Forum PET, has reported that bottle deposits are responsible for consistently high recycling rates for PET bottles in Germany.