The Campaign to Protect Rural England’s call to reintroduce bottle refund schemes in order to cut litter and increase recycling has received widespread support, including from the Guardian. The prime minister has promised to look sympathetically at the proposal. So it is very disappointing that industry bodies are trying to rubbish our research rather than working with us to consider how such a scheme could work without burdening retailers and producers with excessive costs.
We know that deposit refund schemes work and that they can increase recycling of drinks containers to 90% (currently, only 38% are recycled). We have now demonstrated that a scheme would be cost-effective, bringing benefits worth £1.2bn a year.
This is taken from an article in the Guardian. Interestingly, it is in reply to another article which argues strongly against having a system in which there is a refund on glass bottles (and other recyclables).
This type of scheme is active in many countries and involves there being a small extra charge for each bottled product and then the user can get a refund when they return the bottle for re-use or recycling.
What could be wrong with this? Well, if you think that the answer is ‘nothing at all – sounds great’ then you are with the majority, judging by the comments readers have posted under the first article. It’s worth reading the comments to see how the British public feels.
Wunzwoz supports the principles of ‘Refuse, re-use and recycle’. Anything that encourages people to re-use and recycle has got to be a good thing. Should it be necessary for people to be paid for re-using and recycling? Well, probably not in an ideal world.
But we aren’t living in an ideal world and any incentive for people to do more recycling is a good thing. A few things that struck me about this discussion were that in the countries that used similar schemes there was less litter and less stuff dumped into landfill sites. Often the return refunds were used for the good of the community. For instance the scheme where the deposits on bottles could be donated to charity.
Why wouldn’t you be willing to pay a few pennies more for a glass bottle if you know that you are going to get your money back when you return it to be recycled or re-used?