After a decade of lobbying, the government finally announced today that it will soon be implementing a deposit return system on all cans, bottles and plastic containers.
The scheme will attempt to boost recycling efforts and cut down on landfill by offering shoppers a small sum of cash for each container returned. Similar schemes are already operational in 38 countries around the world, where on average, they have helped increased the recycle rate to 90%.
Germany in particular has seen a huge uptake, leading to 99% of all plastic bottles being recycled, which, when compared with 43% in Britain currently, demonstrates the dramatic potential of such a scheme.
Consumers will soon be able to take eligible containers to large reverse vending machines, which will provide small amounts of cash, depending on the size of the container, for each unit deposited. Retailers will then be responsible for recycling them.
“What’s significant is that producers will now pay the full costs of their packaging, reducing the burden on the taxpayer and setting a strong precedent for other schemes where the polluter pays,” DRS campaigner Sarah Harding told the Guardian.
Indeed, the scheme will not only increase recycling, but also hopefully encourage supermarkets to cut down on any unnecessary packaging as a preventative cost saving measure.
The new scheme is still in a consultation phase, and it is still unclear if all retailers will be obliged to participate.
Campaigners have celebrated the news but said there is still a huge amount of work to be done if we want to tackle the mammoth issue currently blighting our environment.
Tanya Steele, WWF’s chief executive put it best, telling the Guardian: “Plastic waste in the UK will rise by a fifth by 2030. We need to be tackling the problem on all fronts by reducing, reusing and recycling. That means introducing a standard approach to recycling and, ultimately, ending the use of avoidable single-use plastic by 2025.”
Cover photo: AVAAZ