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It must be almost two decades ago that I first addressed in Cleanzine the need to encourage people to recycle their glass bottles, citing successful schemes throughout much of the developed world and harping on about how in Britain we seemed to have gone backwards in this endeavour, having dropped our popular Bottle Deposit Return Scheme. It’s not just the Government I’m angry with now, but the general public, too, as over the past couple of years we’ve had to keep picking up our dog when out on walks, because there’s so much broken glass strewn around which could injure her… and it’s not just in alleyways, where louts can smash bottles unseen, but on pavements next to busy roads, too. What on earth has happened to people to make them think it’s OK to damage the environment and endanger people, pets and wildlife by deliberately smashing bottles? I say ‘deliberately’ because there’s so much of the stuff all over the place, it can’t possibly all be there accidentally.
As a child I was well aware that when anyone bought a drink in a glass bottle, they paid a premium for the bottle which was refunded when the bottle was returned to a stockist of that drink. Thus, if someone found a bottle left lying around by a careless consumer, they’d generally take it to a stockist and claim the refund as their own. My friends and I would often augment our pocket money by cleaning up after people in this way.
I hear from Keep Britain Tidy that the UK Government is currently planning to exclude glass from its planned Deposit Return Scheme on the grounds of Health & Safety, stating in its consultation response that: “Reverse vending machines will carry safety risks associated with handling broken glass. The weight of glass and the potential for breakages also poses consumer safety issues in transporting glass bottles to return points”. You couldn’t make it up, could you? Keep Britain Tidy agrees, saying: “It is our view that the safety risks posed to the general public, and to wildlife, of smashed glass bottles remaining in the environment, is a far greater safety risk than that to retailers trained to handle the material. And if consumers are able to take glass away from supermarkets then surely they are able to return it and should be incentivised to do so through a Deposit Return Scheme.” Quite!
I’m going to write to my MP to get this ridiculous cop-out reversed. I do hope you will too.
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21st April 2022