The Anonymous Widower

Charging For Single Use Plastic. Aluminium And Glass Drinks Containers

I’m all for this, but I feel we should look at how the empties are returned and refunds are obtained.

The Norwegians seem to have solved this by means of expensive machines, which give vouchers back.

But there must be something simpler.

A few of my thoughts.

Marking Chargeable Containers

All containers for which a deposit is made, should be clearly marked with symbol, which says that it is worth something to return.

Returning To Shops

Obviously, people will want to do this, but I suspect a lot of smaller shops will ask shoppers to take the empties elsewhere.

They might install a machine, but many shops couldn’t afford the expense.

Collecting For Charity Or Local Causes

Suppose, you had a simple steel bin with holes in the top, like those we had in Suffolk for bottles.

Anything that had the correct symbol could be put in the bin.

These bins would then be collected and sorted automatically at a large plant.

By weighing each bin and knowing its location and owner, it would be possible to apportion the refunds to the charity.

National charities might put recycling bins in car parks or prominent places.

But supposing, your area has a run down children’s playground, that everybody wants to improve.

A recycling bin is placed by the playground and everybody is asked to use it for bottles and other containers. All proceeds would go to the playground fund, with a collateral benefit, that the area of the playground wasn’t strewn with empty bottles.

Automatic Sorting Of Containers

If you have a large plant sorting the containers, it can do a better job, than the most expensive machine on the street.

  • It would be able to sort plastic, glass and aluminium containers.
  • I suspect technology exists to remove labels
  • Glass would probably be washed and crushed.
  • It could also sort out ordinary rubbish like fast food wrapping and boxes, newspapers and disposable nappies.
  • Any washing water would be collected and reused.

The plant would calculate the various combination of materials and if the weight of the rubbish would known, could calculate the return.

Extending The System

There must be other containers, that are also recyclable. In my cupboard, I have a large glass mayonnaise jar, which would probably be recyclable if washed and the top is removed.

So perhaps the system could accept this bottle without its top. It would be washed and crushed, so it could be used instead of quarried aggregate.


There are much better ways to handle the charge on a drink container.

I would reckon, that some of the biggest recycling organisations in the UK are working on a solution, that benefits us all and is as widespread as possible.

March 28, 2018 - Posted by | Food, World | , ,


  1. It’s simple; don’t use plastic bottles, then we don’t have a problem to solve. The proposed solution will cost a fortune, be far from carbon neutral, and how many times is the plastic recycled before it is scrapped? What goes into the recycling queue comes out the other end; just a bit later.

    Comment by John Wright | March 28, 2018 | Reply

  2. I don’t use many. But then I only buy about two a day and that is a beer bottle and spring water for my humidifier, as I know London tap water would fur it up.

    I was only proposing an example. Having been over SELCHP, these recycling plants and incinerators are very sophisticated.

    Comment by AnonW | March 28, 2018 | Reply

  3. We already have communal recycling bins in our flats (I even obtained some well ahead of official roll out) and recycle all but the most contaminated containers. Taking them back to the shop or elsewhere will be an unwelcome PITA, one can also imagine the queues, the unrecognised bottles and mess, although such a scheme seemed to work well in the NY, USA 35 years ago, however the deposit was small, so it was vagrants who collected and surrendered them. The machine read the bar code and crushed the can, [eventually] billing the provider for the fee.

    Comment by Mark Clayton | March 28, 2018 | Reply

  4. We have glass collections here, have had for a long time, and we used to take them to the bottle bank before they started having collection bins. We also have plastic collections, but only certain plastics. I am on medication which makes my mouth very very dry and uncomfortable, and it was suggested that I might find sparking spring water better than Manchester Tap Water; and I do. I probably go through a dozen or more 500 ml bottles each weak. At the moment they are reused for all sorts of thing, my husband refills them with tap water for himself, and he used them with the tops sliced off as miniature individual cloches for delicate plants on the allotment and in the greenhouse. The cost of buying spring water is ridiculous if there is no refund, but I like the Morrisons own brand Yorkshire Vale spring water, and it isn’t expensive. I would gladly take all of them back to be recycled if there was a scheme available, and I wouldn’t mind if the money went to charities either.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | March 28, 2018 | Reply

  5. in Germany the pfand is the charge applied to items that is then returned when then the item is returned and it applies to plastic bottles there. In many airports I have seen large transparent bins, similar to what you propose, where you can deposit your bottle and the money goes instead to charity. It’s an idea that works very well in my opinion!

    Comment by Matthew Goode | March 28, 2018 | Reply

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