What’s Going On Here?
On Tuesday the UK government announced that it is implementing a drinks bottle and can deposit scheme, in which consumers pay more for single-use drinking vessels but can recoup that money.
In theory, consumers would put bottles and cans in ‘Reverse Vending Machines’ in supermarkets and receive their deposit back, forming a tighter closed-loop recycling process
What Does This Mean?
The UK is catching up with the rest of the world. Similar schemes have been in place in 38 countries and have seen plastic recycling rates increase to over 90%. In Norway, 95% of plastic bottles are recycled as part of a similar scheme introduced way back in 1999. Yes, that’s 1999 – think S Club 7, Vengaboys, and Ricky Martin.
Why Should We Care?
Other policies to reduce our single-use plastic consumption have performed beyond expectations. Since 2015 when the 5p charge on plastic bags was introduced, 83% fewer single-use carrier bags have been used, with more than £66m of the money generated being donated to good causes.
However, the key factor here is consumer demand. As consumers actively turn away from single-use products, supply inevitably follows. With 39.9% of all plastic used for packaging, it is, for now, seen as a necessary evil. The real hope is that schemes such as deposits, go one step further and incentivise people to change their behaviour.
When you’re cruising the shopping aisles this week watch out for these:Waitrose have launched egg boxes made from rye-grass, and biodegradable water bottles made from algae will soon hit our shelves.
Last year, Skipping Rocks Lab launched Ooho! which they call ‘Water you can eat’. It holds liquid like plastic does but instead of degrading over 1000 years, it’ll last just 4-6 weeks. And if you’re that way inclined you can eat it too. Nom nom nom.