Return of an old tradition could help recycling

The idea of returning used bottles to be used again used to be a money-spinner for kids
The idea of returning used bottles to be used again used to be a money-spinner for kids

Remember the good old days when you could return a glass bottle back to a shop and get thruppence – or 5p or 10p, depending on your era?

Well, a waste management company believes one of Britain’s favourite childhood memories is long overdue a comeback in a bid to increase national recycling rates.

Paying a deposit on a glass bottle, which was then refunded when returned to the retailer, effectively died out in the UK with the advent of the disposable plastic bottle.

But Business Waste claims now is the time to bring it back.

The company said figures from the United States – where bottle deposits are still widespread – show that the higher the deposit, the more likely a bottle is returned intact.

“We often look at the past with rose-tinted glasses,” said BusinessWaste spokesman Mark Hall. “But the bottle deposit was something that really did work.”

In the post-war period, children could make themselves a reasonable fortune by scouring their area for empty bottles, which they would then take back to the shop to receive a few pence each.

“It was killed off by plastic bottles, but that came with a legacy of millions of tonnes of waste in hedgerows and kerbs filled with bottles,” said Mark.

“It’s time to end this epidemic of wastefulness.”

Business Waste said recycling glass keeps production costs down for drinks manufacturers and bottlers, as it’s far cheaper to make bottles from used glass than it is to make new from raw materials.

Recycling glass is also greener than using plastic bottles as there are few waste products.

And human nature means that people are more likely to recycle if there is a reward.

“The furore over the 5p charge for supermarket carrier bags shows worked up we get as a nation get about very small sums of money,” Mark said.

“We can turn this negative energy into a positive by rewarding customers for returning recyclables.”

He added: “Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. It’s great for recycling rates, it’s great for British industry, but best of all – it’s great for kids’ pocket money!”

Would you welcome the return of a glass bottle deposit scheme ? Email your views to readers@jpress.co.uk