Reverse vending machines for plastic bottles

23rd March 2018 | Recycling

A deposit scheme for plastic bottles will be unveiled in days. The move is part of plans from Environment Secretary Michael Gove to drive up recycling rates and reduce litter. His officials are looking at ways of introducing a small charge on drinks cans and plastic bottles.

This deposit would be refunded to customers who took their empties to a new network of “reverse vending machines”.

A leaked report shows that adopting the scheme would boost the collection rates for plastic bottles from around 60 per cent to more than 85 per cent. The move could also reduce the litter resulting from bottles and cans by at least 70 per cent, the report said. Mr Gove is expected to reveal the detailed plans next week. He said last year that bottle return schemes were a “great idea” and he wanted to examine how one would work.

Reverse Vending

Therese Coffey, a junior environment minister, has visited Norway to see whether its system could be adopted in the UK. Mr Gove pledged to work urgently to combat plastic pollution after seeing shocking scenes of its effects on the environment in the BBC’s Blue Planet II.

The bottle deposit would need to be at least 15p to encourage customers to reclaim it, according to experts. An estimated 35 million plastic bottles and 20 million aluminium cans are sold in the UK every day. Fewer than 60 per cent of bottles are recycled, fuelling a tide of litter and waste.

In countries with deposit schemes, recycling rates are higher than 90 per cent.

Campaigners insist a deposit scheme must cover all plastic drinks bottles, as well as aluminium cans and glass drinks bottles – if it is to be effective and financially viable. Coca-Cola, Tesco, Iceland and the Co-op have all backed the idea.

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