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Posted on Jul 16, 2013 in Blog, Waste

Deposit/refund Programme will Reduce Litter!

Picture of rubbish left in Malahide, courtesty of Malahide Tidy Towns.


With this beautiful weather come some dirty habits. Our beaches are strewn with cans, bottles, nappies, BBQs and any other unwanted or dirty item. It appears that some people buy cheap towels, hats, shoes, etc. only to leave them behind because it is too time-consuming and bothersome to pick up the item and take home to clean.

We also like to bring picnics to parks, beaches and to other public amenities. Where we should only leave our footprints behind, we leave half our kitchen larder.

One way to reduce litter is to encourage the government to adopt a deposit/refund scheme for single-use bottles and cans. This would apply to all alcoholic and soft drinks, bottled water and juices. Such programmes are successfully up and running in many American States, Canada, Australia and several EU countries.

In Germany, they have a 95%+ return rate for their single-use containers. In US States where they have deposit/refund programmes in place, there has been a 70-84% reduction in single-use container litter (i.e., bottles and cans).

In Dublin alone, we spent €37 million on litter pick-up in 2008. Over 25,000 tonnes of litter was collected! Only this week, Fingal collected 3,000 bags of rubbish collected on its beaches in three days!

We generate 70,000 tonnes of plastic bottles (PET) annually, of which we only collect 27,000 tonnes (39%). We also collect only 55% of our aluminium cans, despite kerbside collections and numerous bring banks throughout the country.

Why is this?

According to the Container Recycling Institute, “[u]p to 50-70% of beverages are consumed in households, while the remaining 30-50% of beverages are consumed away-from-home, at bars, restaurants, offices, parks, educational institutions and on-the-go. At best, curbside recycling can deliver a 40-45% recycling rate for beverage containers.”

How many of us can claim that we bring home our water bottles, soft drink bottles and cans after a day out? While most of us would throw them into rubbish bins, this is a lost resource. A deposit on bottles and cans put value on each item and by being able to return them to shops or reverse vending machines, it becomes more attractive to return the container for recycling than to throw away. However, if you don’t want to do this, there are many people who will collect these bottles and cans for money.

Chief Seattle once said Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.

I’d like to amend this by saying, take only memories (and all your rubbish), leave nothing but footprints.

Encourage Minister Hogan to consider adopting a container deposit/return scheme.