image credit: London Permaculture (Flickr CC)

A headline in the Telegraph states ‘new research found that returning used drinks containers to the shop could save money, reduce litter and boost recycling’.

Really? They needed to do new research to figure that out?

Well I guess they did, but I wonder what if involved: observing that drink companies made more money by mass-producing plastic bottles destined for the side of the road or, if you’re lucky, the dump?

The UK phased out bottle deposit schemes 20 years ago because companies didn’t care about anything but profit. No change there, so the government, which has strong public support on the issue, will have to force them to do roll back the clocks as it were.

Popular travel writer and President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England Bill Bryson is quoted in the same Telegraph article:

What sensible nation would not want to capture and recycle its precious and finite resources? What discerning people would not want to enjoy a litter-free environment?

Government studies show that it will cost to create an infrastructure for depositing and will cost consumers more to buy bottled drinks, though CPRE research says it will save consumers in the long run, because people will clean up after themselves rather than leaving local councils to tidy up all their trash. I guess they mean tax money, not pocket change.

The real shame is that they should have never stopped the old bottle deposit scheme in the first place, but the fact that a drink will cost more will encourage reuse, which is actually better than recycling.

Psychologically, it’s a nice feeling to get a bit of cash back after shoving cans and plastic and glass bottles into the eager mouth of a deposit machine. It’s like getting paid to feed a giant ugly Tamagotchi. They should build the new machines with greedy lip smacking and belching sound effects.

European countries like the Nordic nations, Germany and the Netherlands have such systems, as do Australia, New Zealand and some parts of Canada and the US so get with it, UK!

In short, until someone invents inexpensive, benign nanobots who will eat our trash and turn it into eco-friendly Mercedes Benzes, we can and should go back to some schemes from ‘the good old days’.

Additional resources:

Guardian – In praise of … deposits on bottles

BBC News – Call for deposit charge on drinks bottles to cut litter