Earlier this year the government announced plans for a deposit return scheme for single use drinks containers (whether plastic, glass or metal), subject to consultation. That’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it?
Basically, the government are planning on introducing a cash incentive for people to recycle plastic bottles, glass bottles and aluminium cans instead of throwing them away. Yep, that’s right, you could potentially get money for returning your used cans and bottles to a recycling depot. We are beyond excited for this and not just because of the huge impact this will inevitably have on our lakes, rivers and seas.
The Guardian states that only 43% of the 13 billion plastic bottles used each year by Brits are recycled. That’s an astonishing amount of unnecessary waste. Having a deposit return scheme in place could significantly reduce this number.
But why would this be life changing for our communities?
Well, an incentive to return our plastic bottles for cash encourages us all to hang on to them rather than throwing them away. Let’s be honest, how many times have you thrown a plastic bottle in a non-recycling bin because it was the easy thing to do? We’ll put our hands up, there was a time when we did that too. One too many times in fact.
More bottles recycled, means less in landfill. It also means less that are carelessly thrown away and end up in our gutters or out on the streets. Which by the way, is totally gross. No one wants to live surrounded by litter. The deposit return scheme has the potential to reduce the amount of rubbish in our streets, local parks and public spaces.
But most interestingly (and we think importantly), deposit return schemes have had major impacts on the lives of rough sleepers. Did you know it’s estimated that in England alone, there are 4,751 people sleeping rough on any given night? Heartbreaking isn’t it.
If you’ve ever been to Hawai’i you’ll have noticed two things. First, how super clean the beaches are and second, the number of rough sleepers carrying around sacks/shopping trollies full of plastic bottles. You might also have found a similar scenario when visiting California or New York.
This quote from pbs.org's article How Homeless Recyclers Make A Living Redeeming Recyclables will hit you right in the feels:
“This is how I eat,” said Johnson, a 52-year-old-man standing toward the back of a line. “It gets us lunch, cigarettes, coffee, cat food; the basic necessities. It’s better than nothing.”
Now don’t get us wrong, we’re not suggesting that rough sleepers should be grateful for this planned scheme, that it will transform their lives or that they should bear the responsibility of cleaning up after those of us who are fortunate enough to have a roof. But we are hopeful that the deposit return scheme has the potential to make a difference for our entire community in many different and potentially unexpected ways.
More cans and bottles recycled, less rubbish in our streets, waterways and oceans, as well as more food in the mouths of our rough sleepers. All great things, wouldn’t you agree?