I’m all for bringing back good ideas that we don’t do any more, and one of those is deposits on bottles. We used to have a deposit payable on glass bottles, and this was returned when the bottles were handed back, so they could be refilled. This is how it worked in Kenya where I went to school. In fact, I did very well gathering up spare coke bottles from people too lazy to return them, and supplemented my pocket money on the five shilling deposits.
Anyway, I was interested to see that the Campaign to Protect Rural England are suggesting a return of the bottle deposit:
“Each household disposes of 500 plastic bottles a year (a total of 13 billion in the UK), but just 130 of these are recycled, meaning that 370 go to landfill, or into our streets, fields and hedgerows. A 10p deposit system on plastic bottles alone could therefore earn an average family £50 a year – just for returning their waste – while contributing to a cleaner environment.”
The suggestion is part of their ‘Stop the Drop‘ anti-littering campaign, fronted by author Bill Bryson, which launched yesterday.
It’s a workable idea. As well as Kenya, schemes already operate in Germany, Sweden and Australia, even Scotland. And it works – an initiative in Iowa saw litter drop by 70%, because it gave litter a value, and people returned it.
Minister for Waste Joan Ruddock is amenable to the idea: “I have asked officials to look at novel ways on how we deal with the worst litter offenders, which are bottles and cans. It may be possible to devise a scheme where people deposit used bottles and cans and get a reward. I can see the attraction of take-back schemes with a reward.”
So, watch this space. And save up your bottles.