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Welcome revival for money-back bottle scheme?

Empty plastic water bottles

Would you return a can or bottle to get 15p back? If a new proposal to reintroduce the money-back bottle scheme gets the go-ahead you could soon be doing just that.

Hands up if you remember collecting up old bottles and taking them back to the shop for a few pennies?

I’d rather not reveal my age here, but it’s certainly something I have vague recollections of.

Well, thanks to a new proposal from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the money-back bottle scheme could be set for a comeback.

How much will the scheme cost?

For those of you too young (or with memory too faded) to remember, it would work like this: when you buy a can, glass or plastic bottle containing under a pint it would cost you 15p more than it does now. Anything that holds more than a pint would cost an extra 30p. When you’ve finished you return it to the shop and get your money back.

It all sounds pretty straightforward to me, but apparently it would be costly to implement. CPRE reckons it would cost £84m to set up, plus £700m a year in running costs. Phew.

They’ve also estimated that £500m of this would be covered by deposits paid on bottles that are never returned, with drinks manufacturers being responsible for the remaining £200m.

Are you for or against?

The proposal has its fair share of supporters, as well as doomsayers. David Cameron is keen to support the revival, but supermarkets and other retailers insist it’s expensive and goes against council recycling schemes.

Yes, it’s evidently going to be costly, but shouldn’t we consider the bigger picture? The wider benefits of this kind of scheme are obvious. Up to 30p extra on bottles and cans is a pretty hefty hike. Paying extra will make people more aware of the cost – both financially and to the environment – of consuming so much.

I remember children making a real effort to collect unwanted bottles in order to make some ‘easy’ cash. Returning to this scheme will mean children grow up more aware of the need to return and reuse, as well as encouraging a culture where we don’t take packaging for granted. How can that be bad?


For, if faced with a dilemma.

Having not thrown anything packaging wise out in the last several years, in the spirit of reuse resources, I may well find myself confronted with money on the table now, or stuff for a rainy day.

With a few thousand pop bottles, when we come to move house, this could prove an initiative well worth it for £ as well as planet:)

Just a bit worried about where the money comes from. Seldom are lunches free.

I suspect you are right, and there would be some ‘proof of purchase’ in place.

That said…. First thing I do is separate shrink wrap labels, caps and even neck rings on PEPs, for instance. Who would be able to track that?

As to keeping stuff, I am lucky to have a big house, many outbuildings… and an understanding wife .

It started as a professional interest thing, to track just what we as a family ‘consume’ and generate as reusable ‘waste’… for my website Junkk.com.

However, as I do love finding reuses for things, you’d be amazed at what can get inspired, especially when in quantity. Currently making a canoe from milk bottles. Not quite Plastiki but close!

I’m in favour of the idea – In fact have thought about it for years after seeing so many bottles strewn around the streets and parks. I really hope it does include plastic and metal cans.

I well remember as a boy collecting glass bottles to take to the Off Licence for the penny a bottle. It meant a useful increase in income. Did it for “Bob a Job” too.

Sophie Gilbert says:
17 September 2010

I’d retun a can or a bottle it for 5p!

Supermarkets and retailers are primarily interested in what’s going to make them money, so why should we expect them to support a scheme that is going to cost them money? Their argument that such a scheme would go against council recycling schemes is at best spurious, if not entirely dishonest. The scheme would wouldn’t go against council recycling schemes, it would complement them.

We must indeed look at the bigger picture. If no amount of education, campaigning or pleading is going to get some (most?) people to recycle, but money will, let’s set up the scheme. Thanks to it, damage to the environment and consumption gone mad may be curbed a little.

I always thought the point of this scheme was that the bottles were glass and were reused by being refilled, not just recycled. The schemes were run by manufacturers because they were advantageous to them (the deposit was less than the cost of a new bottle). Since most bottles are now plastic and can only be recycled there is no incentive.

Surely that’s the point of having a returnable or refundable deposit? Whether the item is recycled or reused is immaterial. – It is RETURNED – rather than landfilled or dumped on the street.

Locally I pass dozens of these items daily – If they had an intrinsic value – people (especially children) would be far more inclined to either collect them from the roads or parks – or take them home.

It used to be a steady earner for me – allowing me to buy items my pocket money didn’t cover. And —- clean streets..

Currently a temporary resident of Germany, the cash for bottle scheme is alive and well here. With a deposit of around 25c per bottle and the supermarkets handling most of the returns the scheme is part of everyday life.

Supermarkets have machines at their entrance, where customers either place bottles individually or place a whole crate on a conveyor. The machine counts up the amount of bottles in a crate and then spits out a ticket for use at the check out. On average we receive 4 Euros each visit, which is an incentive, and if employed could see a greener Britain.

I’m all for it, lets keep up with our European neighbors.

Dave W says:
29 October 2010

That system sounds to be the ideal way to do it. Fully automated and we all visit the supermarket regularly.

pickle says:
19 September 2010

Yes, I am all for such a scheme – it would cut down the amount of rubbish left on our streets and parks. That scheme in Germany looks interesting – it might work here.

I went for a walk with my dogs – about a mile and a half in side streets – I counted the cans – plastic and glass bottles – The tally? SIXTY TWO drink cans – two glass bottles – three plastic bottles. About half of these are dumped in people’s front gardens where the road sweepers don’t go – and are generally rented accommodation with “newcomers”. So the mess stays for months.

Interesting that 40 – 50 years ago this general mess really didn’t exist. – the bottles used to be found on main roads not side streets – and – road were swept far more often. .

Deposits on all cans and bottles are well overdue.

Maybe at last Cameron D and Glegg N have said something that I agree with ….. I suppose it had to happen one day!
Frivolity aside, this is a well overdue and very welcome idea.
I’m slightly surprised at the anticipated set up cost but 100% in favour.

Diana Price says:
28 April 2011

Lived in Brussels , 11 years ago, briefly, and you had a coupon given back to you, for the recycled bottles, to use for the next milk or yoghurt, put in a sort of shut, think it was their own brand only, and only glass!
The system needs to idenify which manufacturers are willing to do this, and who they are refilled by, does it really matter who purchased the product, as long as you don’t leave them outside for others to steal.