Some more sensible countries have had deposit schemes on bottles for as long as I can remember. So for example living in Sweden or on a school trip to Germany (both in the 1970s), I’d buy a bottled drink, drink it, then return the bottle and get a part of the original purchase price back.
30 years on, we still don’t have anything comparable in the UK. And milk bottles – the one sensible re-use scheme we had – have declined hugely. The best .UK can do is bottle banks – chuck in your glass indiscriminately, and it goes into some recycling process. Presumably something energy-intensive, involving melting the glass down. But at least industrial processes like that benefit from economies of scale.
But now there’s a new version of our recycling: kerbside collection. That comes with new instructions: wash up everything before recycling.
Erm, What? A lot of glass bottles and jars have narrow necks. If they’ve contained anything that needs more than a simple rinse, they can be difficult or impossible to wash up using the equipment available in an average domestic kitchen. At best, it takes a lot of water: forget about little things like not leaving the tap running while brushing the teeth!
And that’s for glass that’s going straight into an industrial recycling process, which presumably involves re-washing it in any case. Only the recyclers have the benefit of industrial-grade equipment and economies of scale, so they’re obviously going to make a much better and more efficient job of it!
Is there any rationale at all for making recycling such a wasteful and inefficient process?