Could The UK Adopt A Norwegian System To Curb Plastic Waste?

At the beginning of this year, the BBC reported that the UK faces a build-up of plastic waste about which Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, admitted a lapse in judgement concerning the severity of the problem.

Currently, Britain only recycles a mere 50% of its plastic bottles as opposed to Norway that, thanks to a plastic bottle deposit scheme, recycles a staggering 97% of its plastic bottles.

Similar bottle recycling schemes are used in other Nordic nations, Germany and some areas in the US and Canada

A Government-appointed working group that includes Tesco and Coco-Cola European Partners has advised that a deposit scheme would “significantly increase recycling levels”.

The BBC reported: “a Scandinavian deposit-based system for recycling bottles is thought likely to be adopted in the UK.”

How It Works

Consumers pay a deposit on each bottle they buy – 10p to 25p depending on the size. Once the bottle is empty, they return it and receive a coupon for the deposit. Consumers, therefore, do not lose anything by recycling but miss out if they do not. This encourages them to make the extra effort to recycle.

Shop keepers in Norway praise the system as good for business due the extra footfall in their shops created by customers returning to recycle their bottles.

The Facts

With approximately 1 million sold every minute worldwide, drinks bottles are one of the most common form of plastic waste.

Major supermarkets such as Iceland and the Co-Op have backed the move to introduce a bottle deposit scheme in England and Wales. Regarding the UK’s current levels of recycling, Iceland Foods said: “This cannot carry on… Britain urgently needs to do the same [adopt a deposit return scheme].”

In the UK, Scotland has already committed to a deposit return scheme. Details of this are yet to be finalised.


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