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Waging war on plastic bottles

Continuing our Zero Waste Week campaign, the Scottish government is proposing to introduce a deposit scheme for bottles and cans. We think this is a great idea but not very practical and without financial merit as we stand today.

Lets start with the problem:

  • In the UK a typical household uses around 480 plastic bottles a year but only recycles just over half of them. Greenpeace claim that most soft drinks manufacturers sell in single use bottles using over 2 million tonnes of plastic and on a global scale, only 6.6% are recycled.
  • Some of those bottles will have travelled a considerable distance for you to drink your favourite brand, so you might think twice before asking for a French or Italian brand.
  • AG Barr, makers of IrnBru shut down their 30p deposit for glass bottles in August 2015 after more than 100 years of operation, showing that it is not worth the effort in simple financial terms.
  • “Aha, but…” I can hear you saying. There are savings of around £5million to be made in not having to pick up the litter. AG Barr estimate the cost of collections to be around £150m per year, dwarfing the £5m savings, not to mention the scope for English containers to be shipped in bulk to Scotland to be recycled. A lorry load of crushed cans would be worth £32,000.

There are more arguments on both sides but lets look at other solutions. In April, scientists announced an ‘edible’ water bottle made from seaweed. Its not on the market yet but makers claim that they can create single use ‘orbs’ that can hold up to one litre of water.

We think that reusable bottles is the way to go and last week we spotted these memobottles might just be the thing we need as they are slimline and can easily fit into most bags. You can buy them on kickstarter for over £20, or shop around a little and get one for less than a five, or if you are a bit more careful with your money, just get a bottle of water from Lidl for 20p and reuse it for six months.

The really cool thing about reusable bottles is that you can reuse them over and over. Did you know that all licensed premises are obliged to provide drinking water free of charge to their customers, so anywhere that sells alcohol could be a top-up stop to refill your water bottle.

Used drinks containers don’t have to be recycled. They can be reused as we can see here where refugees have filled bottles with sand to build themselves shelters.

Recycled bottle shelter
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