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A few weeks ago, the government officially announced plans to roll out a plastic bottle deposit return scheme across the whole of the UK, to reduce the landfill waste collection of recyclable products. As part of their crackdown on single-use plastics, this scheme would see customers paying a surcharge on the purchase of plastic bottles, which would then be reimbursed at a later stage, were they to be returned to an accepted vendor.

This follows on the heels of similar successful waste collection schemes around the world, most famously in Sweden, Norway and Germany.

How does the scheme work?

While these schemes might seem new and revolutionary here in the UK, you might be surprised to hear that they’ve been used in European countries since as far back as the 1980s. In these countries, customers return their bottles to a network of waste collection ‘vending machine’ type machines, which can be found in supermarkets, other shops, outlets or in the street.

Generally, customers in relevant countries will collect a large contingent of bottles, before bringing them to the nearest vendor in one single batch. They can then choose to be reimbursed in cash or to donate the equivalent sum to charity.

The setup and operating costs look set to be absorbed by plastic bottle producers via a levy.

How much money will a plastic bottle be worth?

The amount customers are entitled to for each bottle changes depending on the country, and it’s not yet clear what the acceptable amount for a British version will be. Swedish customers currently receive the equivalent of 17p (2 kronor) for large plastic bottles, and around 9 pence (1 krona) for smaller ones.

Slightly higher waste collection deposits are returned in Germany, at around 22p per plastic bottle. It’s likely that British deposits would be somewhere between the two, probably somewhere between 10-15 pence per bottle. But we don’t yet have any concrete information.

Will this improve waste collection in the UK?

Similar schemes across Europe have proved to be remarkably successful. In Sweden, a recent count put the recycling rates of eligible bottles and aluminium cans at 82.5 per cent. Norway has recorded similar rates, and there is a general consensus that these schemes have been largely successful where they’ve been used.

The scheme doesn’t currently have an official roll-out date in the UK, and according to the government it still remains subject to ‘consultation’. It’s unlikely that they would have officially announced a scheme they anticipate being outright cancelled – but there’s a good chance we might be waiting some months or even years for a full roll-out in the UK.

Responsible waste collection

This comes as part of an encouraging drive towards more responsible waste collection policies from the government in recent months. And after years of stagnating waste collection recycling rates it’s certainly about time that something was done.

At Skip It we’re as pro responsible waste clearance policies as the next person, which is why over 90 per cent of the waste collection we process is diverted away from landfill sites. That’s true whether you’re taking advantage of our competitive skip service pricing, our house clearance services or our business waste collection services. Enquire to find out more here.

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Matthew

22nd June 2018

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