At a drinks retailer on the outskirts of Hamburg, a father holds up his three-year-old son to help him push an empty plastic water bottle into a hole on a large grey machine. With a whirring sound, the apparatus pulls the bottle out of the child’s hand, juggles it on an assembly line to scan the barcode, then sucks the container even deeper into its belly and eventually shreds it with a satisfying crunch. “Jackpot!” says the boy, beaming with glee as the machine spits back a 25-cent voucher. Next in line, a man carrying a bin bag brimming with plastic bottles cannot quite feel a similar joy in recycling. “To be honest, I think it’s a slog,” says Şükrü Çal, 41. “Somehow the supermarkets have found a way of making us clear up after them.” With its reputation as a recycling world champion, Germany is seen by many as the inspiration behind Britain’s new deposit return scheme (DRS) for bottles and cans, which was … [Read more...] about Has Germany hit the jackpot of recycling? The jury’s still out
My recycle bin
More than 4m plastic bottles a week could be prevented from littering streets and marine environments in Britain if authorities adopted the kind of deposit-return schemes that operate in at least a dozen other countries, according to new evidence. A report for the last parliament that was never published suggests there could be a dramatic reduction in the number of bottles littered if people paid a deposit that would be refunded if they returned used bottles. Dominic Hogg, chairman of the environmental consultants Eunomia, who produced the report for the environmental audit committee, said: “We need to address the significant impact of litter in the UK and to cut down on the sources of plastic entering the marine environment. “A growing number of private companies are getting the message that it’s not good for business to be a brand that despoils the beaches and pollutes the oceans,” he said. “A deposit scheme will generate higher quantities of material of … [Read more...] about Could a money-back scheme clean up the UK’s plastic bottle plague?
Cash in exchange for returning a used drinks container sounds like a good idea, but how much of an impact will it have in our fight against reducing waste? On Tuesday the government unveiled a bottle and can deposit scheme covering glass, metal and plastic drinks containers in England. By returning bottles and cans consumers will receive a small cash sum, however retailers are responsible for recycling the items. Respondents to a Guardian callout were overall enthused by the idea, with people from other countries praising the British government for finally joining the trend. However, some readers shared concerns and suggested improvements. Here are five things they said the new scheme in England should take into account. 1. Capacity ‘Supermarkets should have at least two or three return points’: Paul Handley, 44, Derby It’s really a no brainer if we are serious about positive recycling. All supermarkets should have at least two or three return points though. … [Read more...] about ‘But will it cut waste?’: reader concerns about bottle deposit scheme
As the streams of fans moved towards the Brandenburg Gate to watch Germany's World Cup matches, few noticed the men and women standing with bags and carts by the entrance to the fenced-off arena, collecting empty bottles. Nadine, a pregnant 20-year-old, had been stationed at the west entrance near the Victory Column since midday, and her shopping trolley was half full. Empty glass and plastic bottles can be redeemed at German supermarkets for eight to 25 cents (6-20p) an item. "Twenty euros should be in it for me today," she said. Asked why she was collecting bottles, Nadine replied: "There are private reasons. But let's just say, I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't have to." In recent months, these Pfandsammler (deposit collectors) have become increasingly controversial, with some cities accused of trying to push them out of their centres. Hamburg now has 160 solar-powered bins that squash rubbish, allowing them to be emptied less frequently. Stuttgart has installed bins that store … [Read more...] about German cities accused of freezing out poverty-stricken bottle collectors
A typical supermarket is filled with plastic, from aisles of drinks in plastic bottles to bags of prewashed greens and the liners hidden in cereal boxes. (Some go even further, such as a grocery store in Hong Kong known for selling individually wrapped strawberries.) But an increasing number of stores are trying to find ways to get rid of some of that packaging. advertisement advertisement A new Greenpeace report, The Smart Supermarket, walks through some of the solutions that already exist. “In talking with some companies, it’s just such a big problem to tackle: How do you completely overhaul all the packaging in your store?” says Kate Melges, a plastics campaigner at Greenpeace and one of the authors of the report. “I wanted to show people that the solutions that we need are already here. Granted, they’re at various scales, but imagine if we scale them up, and imagine what it could look like if we were to transform the way that we grocery … [Read more...] about 7 ways that supermarkets can help eliminate single-use plastic