Guest Post by Erika Mastrorosa*
This is our fourth post in a series! This week we investigate how a deposit return scheme could help reduce the pollution associated with plastic production. Check out the previous weeks blogs below.
There are FIVE things we do to reduce our plastic footprint.
- Eliminating virgin plastic bottles
- Eliminating plastic packaging for food
- Using alternative mixtures in manufacturing
- Introducing a deposit return scheme
- Choosing reusable cups and bottles
Deposit Return Schemes
Alongside the reduction of plastic packaging, it is imperative to increase the recycling rate. The good news is that in some European countries – the UK among them – the recycling rate has even surpassed the EU recycling targets. However, much remains to be done.
One initiative to further improve the recycling rate is a well-established deposit return scheme. The commitment to reducing the environmental impact doesn’t stop at the existing household recycling programmes. Over the years, environmental organisation have exposed both governments’ and private companies’ shortcomings in encouraging and funding deposit return schemes.
It is true that recycling plastic costs more than producing new packaging, but the implementation of environmentally responsible schemes can benefit companies in a general switch to renewable resources, which could ultimately result in an economic advantage, not to mention popularity in this moment of increasing environmental awareness.
Just recently the UK government has announced a deposit return scheme in the attempt to reduce litter. In exchange for a small amount of cash, consumers can return their bottles and cans in the appropriate returning facilities. The adhering retailers will then be responsible for recycling the returned items.
Almost 40 countries have now adopted this strategy, witnessing an increase in the recycling rate of more than 90%. Although there is no definitive evidence of the reduction of littering connected to the deposit return schemes, these schemes are certainly a viable strategy to change the population’s attitudes and to force big chains and companies to provide in-store recycling facilities.
Together with the pledge to employ fully recyclable packaging, Co-op and Iceland have been the pioneers of the initiative. Back in 2017, the two supermarket chains led the way to increase the percentage of plastic bottle collection for recycling, setting an important example and creating a standard for other companies to follow.
Stay tuned to find out about using choosing reusable cups and bottles!
*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.