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I've said many times over the years we've been broadcasting Cleanzine that we should bring back the bottle return schemes we ditched decades ago, where we were charged not just for our drink but also for the bottle in which it was supplied. Return the bottle from whence it came and you'd receive your deposit back. The beauty of the scheme was that because bottles were worth money, you'd find fewer littering or smashed up on the streets because if you couldn't be bothered to return yours, the local children would.
These days, it would also reduce the cost of our kerbside collections. As you can imagine, I was pleased to learn about the study by Eunomia, written for - amongst others - Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Reloop, which found that local authorities across England could save up to £35 million every year if a deposit refund system for plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans was introduced.
The analysis across eight local authorities, (including those with high and low recycling rates) found that rather than losing income, an authority could potentially make savings of between £60,000 and £500,000. And while the authorities would lose some income as there would be a reduced number of cans and plastic bottles in the kerbside collections to sell to recyclers, the savings made from having fewer containers to collect and sort, as well as reduced levels of littering and reduced landfill charges, would actually create savings that outweigh the loss of revenue.
With local authority resources under increasing pressure, these findings provide evidence that, rather than negatively affecting local authority waste services, a DRS could actually support them and reduce the costs of delivering the service, while also delivering cleaner streets and reducing the amount of plastic entering our oceans.
Every day, 35 million plastic bottles and 20 million aluminium cans are sold across the UK and many end up as litter, in our oceans or in landfill sites. Evidence from the US, Norway and Germany, shows that the introduction of a simple deposit on plastic bottles and cans could raise collection rates above 90% and reduce littering. What on earth are we waiting for?
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12th October 2017