Too little too late?

The Government has announced plans for a new deposit return scheme for recycling plastic bottles and drinks cartons – something that our country has been crying out for, for a long time.

Across Europe there are already ten countries with such a scheme in place, including Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden – who have all seen extremely positive results.

Norway have seen the most success rate with a return scheme with an outstanding return rate of over 97% for their scheme which has been in place since 1996, while Germany have a 98.4% total return rate for their scheme which was first announced in 2003.

Norways system handles PET plastic bottles for beverages and a small amount of HDPE aluminium cans, allowing refunds to be made via one of 3,500 vending machines (93%) or manual collection points (7%). Customers can receive anywhere between €0.10 and €0.26 depending on the size of the bottle/can returned.


How will the UK’s proposed return scheme work?

Customers will pay a small fee on plastic bottles that is refunded once an empty container is returned to a purpose-built vending machine that will be placed in and around supermarkets across the country. The scheme is set to be introduced in 2025…

This has rightly been criticised by environmental campaigners who have pointed out the delay in bringing these plans to fruition in comparison with other countries (most of which aren’t as well funded as the UK), as well as the start date being as late as 2025. The scheme also won’t include glass bottles in certain parts of the UK – another stumbling block.

According to the BBC, the UK uses more than 20 billion bottles and cans each year, most of which end up in landfill with our industry’s toner cartridges. New plans will see shoppers pay a small cash deposit when buying a drink in a single-use container including cans and plastic bottles. This deposit will then be returned to the consumer once an empty container has been returned for recycling. As a result, the government hope that this change will lead to an 85% reduction in drinks containers being abandoned as litter within three years of the scheme starting.

Having been first proposed as a scheme over five years ago, are these plans coming into action too late? Other, much smaller European countries are much further ahead in their efforts towards recycling as a result and the delay of the scheme until 2025 feels like yet another step backwards for something that is already successfully in use in other parts of the world. Each year of inaction results in billions more plastic waste, potentially harming billions more lives and habitats.

ECS The Greener Side have already been putting words into action for well over a decade. We operate an award winning toner cartridge and WEEE waste recycling scheme that prevents over 1,000,000 toner cartridges from entering landfill every single year, returning the majority of which to the marketplace as remanufactured products, removing the need for raw materials and preventing masses of harmful waste.

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