Norway’s deposit-based bottle recycling system could be introduced to the UK to help fight against plastic pollution and help reduce levels of unnecessary waste.

Government advisers have said the Scandinavian scheme has been a massive success in helping reduce plastic litter in the environment and seas.

In the UK 38.5 million plastic bottles get used everyday but figures show that only around half of all plastic bottles get recycled. Norway use an industry led scheme called ‘pant’ which recycles 97% of bottles.

“There are other recycling schemes, but we believe ours is the most cost-efficient”

Kjell Olav Maldum, INfinitum chief executive

The scheme is extremely simple and cost-effective. Consumers pay an extra krone (about 10p) for each bottle they buy, which acts as a deposit.

Once they are finished with the bottle, they can feed it into a machine that scans the barcode and produces a receipt.

Bottle deposit machine found in Norway. Credit/Gorm Kallestad (NTB Scanpix)

This can be cashed in at shops in return for the deposit – which can be up to the equivalent of about 25p depending on the size of the bottle.

Kjell Olav Maldum

Kjell Olav Maldum, chief executive of the company Infinitum which runs the scheme, believes there is no reason why it would not work in Britain. He said; “There are other recycling schemes, but we believe ours is the most cost-efficient.

“We think it could be copied in the UK – or anywhere. Our principle is that if drinks firms can get bottles to shops to sell their products, they can also collect those same bottles.”

Nottingham City Councillor for Energy and Sustainability Dave Liversidge believes a system like this would work in cities like Nottingham and could be ‘in place by 2020 providing shopkeepers and manufactured are on board’.

Mr Liversidge said if plastic bottles can be removed out of the system using methods like Pant, it would help the council and resident recycling.

Video: Dave Liversidge, Nottingham City Councillor on plastic bottles contaminating waste disposal 

In Norway shops are given a small fee for accepting returned bottles. Machines found in supermarkets offer customers vouchers for the shop or the option to make a donation for charity.

The scheme is partly funded by deposits which haven’t been claimed. But shop workers here in Nottingham are skeptical about the scheme.

Audio: Jane Brooks, Avenue Cafe assistant, on whether her customers in Nottingham would adopt this recycling system 

It’s argued that the system could be bad for small business owners. Others say that it could be beneficial for shop owners as customers would have to return to their shop to collect their deposit.

  • In the UK 16 million plastic bottles fail to reach recycling facilities
  • Individual bottles can be recycled up to 12 times
  • Over eight million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans every year

Similar bottle deposit schemes are in place across other Scandinavian countries, as well as in Germany and some states in the US.

Scotland has already agreed to a deposit return scheme but the details haven’t been confirmed.

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