Scotland are leading the way. Wales led the way with a 5p charge for plastic carrier bags. Scotland have already decided that a 20p fee will be paid on the return of a single use plastic drinks bottles. The deposit return scheme even includes cans and glass bottles. It is only PET plastic bottles at the moment – think your fizzy drinks and water – not your milk containers. So exactly how is this going to work?
These things take time and the scheme isn’t going to be in action until 2021; but the effect could be huge. Imagine the numbers of drinks bottles not being recycled and just put straight into black waste that might be captured and recycled. It’s great to remember that it isn’t just plastic pollution that’s a problem. Take a look around you and you will find glass containers and cans dumped everywhere as well. Even the lazy arsed litterer may think twice if they are throwing £1 into the nearest bush rather than taking them home.
I’ve read that some small retailers are concerned about storage issues with the scheme prior to collection of the returned drinks containers. My view is if you can sell it; you can take it back to recycle it. We are so focused now on money over environment. Plastic pollution will only be conquered if our buying habits change – and that doesn’t just involve the supermarket chains but the corner shops and small businesses in our local communities. Maybe littering will only be reduced if we bribe people not to do it? Let’s face it many people already think it’s ok to do it.
But what about online drinks retailers? Heh they aren’t exempt (at the moment only pubs are). Although I can’t imagine how easy or successful returning your empty drinks bottles to Amazon or your online supermarket would be.
Bottle Return and Carrier Bag Re-use
I hope the rest of the UK follows Scotland’s lead and implements this scheme asap. I remember as a child the glass pop bottle return scheme. Going round the streets with my cousin to find extra bottles so we could spend the money on sweets.
It might be more expensive in the short term, the logistics might add to your workload and take up space. But what if within 5 years we can reduce littering significantly and take our recycling rate up to over 90%? Won’t that be worth it? It will show the manufacturers that the UK means business on environmental protection.
Need more evidence? Consider the carrier bag scheme. On 1st October 2011 Wales started charging 5p for one carrier bag. It wasn’t very popular at the time. I remember many people moaning about why should they pay to carry their shopping. From it’s introduction to 2014 the use of single use carrier bags and dropped by 71% and between £17 and £22 million was raised for charity.
I still don’t always remember my shopping bags and it’s 2019! But in a couple of years we’ll stop moaning about the fact we store bottles and cans to take back for a couple of quid and do it routinely. And come on kids; this is your chance to earn some extra cash surely!