A new scheme to encourage people to recycle bottles and cans is being introduced in England, to try to stem the tide of ocean pollution.
People will pay a small deposit when they buy drinks in bottles and cans, which they can get back if they return the container. The price of the scheme, and when it will be introduced, has not been announced yet. It’ll probably just be a few pennies, though, included in the price.
The government first sought views on the scheme back in October 2017, when it said more than 8 million tonnes (8.8 million tons) of plastic were discarded into the oceans each year, a huge threat to wildlife. Now they are planning to do something about it.
“We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment – killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove said in a statement.
“It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.”
Called the deposit return scheme, it will echo similar schemes already in place in countries like Sweden and Germany. They reward people with 8 and 22p (11 and 31¢) respectively for returning empty drinks containers.
This can be done through a “reverse vending machine”, where plastic or glass bottles can be inserted and the machine gives you money. Businesses would then be responsible for properly recycling the containers.
The idea is to build on the success of a 5p (7¢) plastic bag charge that was introduced in 2016, which has reduced plastic bag use by 83 percent. Which is pretty impressive.
“Some 9 billion fewer carrier bags have been distributed since the charge was introduced, with more than £95 million [$134 million] raised donated to environmental, educational and other good causes,” the government noted.
They have also recently banned harmful microbeads, with plastic bottles seen as the next big problem to tackle with regards to cleaning up the oceans. Every year 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die from eating or getting caught up in plastic waste. Plastic pollution is also expected to triple by 2025.
The government will seek views on the best way to introduce the scheme later this year, with other plans in the works, such as reforming how the current packaging waste system works.