The 3 R’s


Reduce           Reuse             Recycle!

I remember as a young boy growing up we used to go round the back of the pub where the empty glass bottles and barrels were stored awaiting collection, grab a handful of bottles and take them to the serving hatch at the front of the pub. There we used to hand them back to the landlord and ask for the 2p deposit that each bottle was worth.

Sometimes we used to get given a Mars bar and told to “just stick them back in the crates in the yard lads” by the landlord ! We had been rumbled, but we had chocolate so we were happy!

However what we did know, even as kids, was that empty bottle had a value when it had been used and the deposit being charged was a way to get that bottle back again. The bottle was then reused and everyone was happy.

Then it all changed – bottles of beer and fizzy pop were put into cans and then into plastic bottles. Retailers didn’t have time (or inclination) to administer deposit schemes any more so they stopped them and the cash incentive was gone.

Packaging got sophisticated and we all got time poor. Glass plastic and metal started being seen in places it shouldn’t be in the sea, the food chain and in landfill sites and we all realised that we needed to start taking care of our planet and we needed to do it quickly. Thanks Blue Planet!

Packaging manufacturers started to send the message that all this packaging was recyclable and that this material should not just be discarded but should be collected and reused. It had a value (again)!

Deposit schemes have started to become more wide spread with initiatives such as reverse vending in easy accessible locations offering incentives to return PET bottles cans and other recyclables.

The manufacturers started to look at how they manufacture packaging, with reduced weight of raw materials through clever design and ideas such as direct printing of brands onto the bottles at point of fill. Not having a label makes recycling a whole lot easier and cheaper – but even if there is a label it can still be recycled and reused, it just needs more sorting.

“Bottle to Bottle” is now possible with some manufacturers producing bottles that have a very high percentage of PET . They are food safe and do the task that they were designed to do.

Governments started to set up and support recycling initiatives across the globe. In California “Container Deposit Laws” are enshrined in local legislation and are legally enforceable. They have lifted recycling rates on PET bottles by around 80% in a relatively short time.

Sweden’s deposit scheme has been in place since 1984 for metal cans and it was extended to include plastic bottles in 1994. They currently realise a return rate of 86% for cans and 77% for plastic bottles. 

Norway sees return rates of up to 90% and schemes in other parts of Europe have shown similar growth.

So the message is clear – don’t just throw away this packaging into the wrong place when you have finished using it! Remember the 3 R’s!

Steve Penney

Steve Penney

Business Development Manager Layers

“Sustainable, Reusable Plastic Assets – Simply Pooled”

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