In order to tackle the ever increasing pollution challenges, deposit return systems are on the rise again- as they play a vital part in preventing bottles and cans from ending up in oceans and landfills, by offering a financial incentive for consumers to return used containers for recycling!
Up until the 1980s, Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) for the reuse of plastics and glass and aluminum were extremely popular and widely implemented across Europe. Whilst some countries such as Germany, Spain and Belgium continue to run this initiative, there has been a steady decline in its use.
Why did this change happen and is recycling better than reusing?
Plastic as a light, cheap, single-use solution led to the rise in plastic packaging production at an industrial scale. It requires a treatment process far less complex than that of glass and so quickly became the preferred packaging option. But with the introduction of the Producer Responsibility Schemes the onus shifted from the consumer to the producer – who would pay a fee to an organisation to take care of everything – and so began the decline of DRS.
There has certainly been a global initiative to reuse plastics where possible but as some packaging cannot be reused and certain plastics have a limited potential for reuse, there needs to be additional solutions in place to tackle each eventuality.
The European Strategy for Plastic has stated that by 2030 all plastic packaging placed on the Union market must be reusable or easily recycled. Their directive promotes a circular approach and gives priority to sustainable solutions; UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns to reduce pressure on precious resources and the environment. This, along with the initiation to establish a minimum collection requirement for PET drinks containers within the EU of 77% by 2025 and 90% by 2029, has sparked the DRS debate again.
The ultimate objective of DRS is to motivate consumers to recycle responsibly thus ensuring plastics do not end up in landfills or our oceans. Traditionally the consumer will pay a small deposit for the packaging (already included in the final price) and when they return the plastic at a collection point, they get the deposit back. The consumer is motivated to return the product as they will have paid the deposit regardless, and the plastics can be recycled and transformed in to secondary materials which can circularly go back in to the market.
Many environmental experts identify DRS as the most significant element for the reduction of single use plastic waste as they harness the power of consumers and provide a responsible and circular solution.
Circularr’s DRS solution operates via Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) and collection points run using pioneering blockchain technology and linked with its dedicated app. Consumers are able to track the recycling journey from the moment they deposit their unwanted plastic through to its second life – as another bottle, a children’s toy or even clothing – and receive rewards via the app. With this Circularr is putting the trust back in to recycling, engaging consumers and introducing them to its network of trusted partners and expanding the consumer payout via the rewards platform.
Circularr is looking to empower a global deposit return scheme that is not limited by local government. This means that even in countries where there is not a current deposit return scheme in place, Circularr will be able to implement the RVMs, reward consumers instantly, and help to reduce plastic pollution. They will be situated globally and have advertising capabilities, meaning partner companies can increase brand awareness and customer loyalty, whilst also reaching a highly engaged audience via the rewards app.
If you’re a business owner interested in hosting an RVM, keen to partner with Circularr’s app or you just want to find out more, come say email@example.com