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‘New’ bottle recycling idea for Scotland – perhaps some recycling behaviours don’t grow old

New resource efficiency initiatives, recycling technologies and sustainability concepts are being developed all the time. Such industry evolution is essential if the UK is to achieve the targets set out for it on the resource efficiency roadmap.

However we must not neglect the fact that some old habits and behaviours still have value today. The circular economy, for instance, is currently receiving a lot of attention as a result of its plight to achieve a restorative approach to industry and society. Yet this framework draws upon many principles from the cradle to cradle phrase first coined by Swiss architect Walter R Stahel in the 1970s.

In Scotland another somewhat old fashioned recycling concept may once again be coming to the fore. For many people, saving glass bottles so that they can be returned to the shop from which they were bought, in exchange for a small amount of money, is not a new concept. So why could this incentivised approach to recycling benefit Scotland?

Scotland’s litter problem is a growing concern, with the Scottish government estimating that, on average, four plastic bottles and three drinks cans can be found along every 100m of the country’s motorways and trunk roads. Sweden used to suffer from a similar issue, yet a deposit refund scheme proved a success, with recycling rates of 85% now being achieved.

The deposit refund scheme works by adding a small amount to the cost of a drink, which is then returned to the customer when the can or bottle is brought back. The drinks firm can then collect the bottle and re-use it in the production process. This is an approach that Irn Bru manufacturer AG Barr has offered for 140 years, but Zero Waste Scotland now hope it can be rolled out on a wider scale.

Litter causes local authorities £1bn to clean up in England too, so perhaps this is also something we should consider south of the Scottish border. For some time the argument has been that unfortunately not everybody will recycle simply for altruistic reasons. Maybe a financial incentive could do the trick…

 

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