‘But will it cut waste?’: reader concerns about bottle deposit scheme | Environment

Cash in exchange for returning a used drinks container sounds like a good idea, but how much of an impact will it have in our fight against reducing waste?

On Tuesday the government unveiled a bottle and can deposit scheme covering glass, metal and plastic drinks containers in England. By returning bottles and cans consumers will receive a small cash sum, however retailers are responsible for recycling the items.

Respondents to a Guardian callout were overall enthused by the idea, with people from other countries praising the British government for finally joining the trend. However, some readers shared concerns and suggested improvements. Here are five things they said the new scheme in England should take into account.

1. Capacity

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Ian Keirnan of Clean Up Australia depositing a plastic bottle into the an Envirobank reverse vending recycling machine, Sydney. Photograph: Jamie Williams/AAP

‘Supermarkets should have at least two or three return points’: Paul Handley, 44, Derby

It’s really a no brainer if we are serious about positive recycling. All supermarkets should have at least two or three return points though.

‘Machines might become full quickly’: Hayley, 26, Leeds

I think it’s great and very overdue. To be able to get rid of everything in one go and receive a bit of money for it will be amazing. My concern is that machines will become full quickly as happens to some recycling bins already.

2. Incentive

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In April, local authorities will able to fine owners of vehicles from which litter is thrown. Photograph: Robert Harding/REX Shutterstock

‘There needs to be a high penalty for not recycling’: Sandy Patience, 61, Yorkshire

Brilliant – but we need to keep the momentum going to rid ourselves of the plastics habit. The scheme needs to carry a penalty high enough to stop people thinking: “Oh, I won’t get much back, so I don’t care when I throw it out of the car window.”

‘Tokens to pay for shopping would be great’: JD Sargeant, 47, Blackpool

People need incentive to change their ways; it’s a sad but true fact for the majority. Instead of a cash reward, tokens should be credited to a scheme that can be used to pay for shopping. If the previous week’s shop can be logged and if all recyclable items are returned you get bonus tokens. With one less bin to empty local councils should also give some discount to people who adopt this scheme, adding another form of cash incentive.

3. Accessibility

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A member of the recycling team in Barnet, London, collects a box of cans and bottles. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

‘I don’t drive’: Hannah, 30, Yorkshire

This does not solve the problem and imposes a levy on those whom already recycle at home. I don’t drive and do not wish to walk to a deposit centre with bags of plastic. I don’t see why we should pay extra for using our own recycling bins instead of returning our plastic to a designated deposit scheme.

‘Perhaps we should better promote kerbside collections’: Pat, 65, Essex

It has to be a good thing but I have reservations about the practicalities of running it. In areas like ours where all these items are collected for recycling at the kerbside, would DRS really be necessary? Wouldn’t it be better to promote more widespread kerbside collections?

4. Safety

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Tents in an underpass in Milton Keynes. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

‘I’m concerned about the safety of those who are impoverished and homeless’: David, 40, South-west England

It’s a fantastic idea. Once we are doing our bit, the industries thriving on our addiction to these products should be made to take some responsibility for their environmental impact. I’m concerned by the potential effects on those who are impoverished and homeless. Household rubbish could become a resource for those less well-off and could put people at risk when looking for items to recycle.

5. Impact

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How much of an effect will a DRS have on plastic bottles? Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA

‘I’m not sure this will reduce waste on a large scale’: Emma Redley, 24, Sheffield

I wonder how well the scheme will be promoted, and whether it will really take off in certain areas if people don’t feel confident in using the DRS facilities. My other concern is that I’m not sure that this will reduce plastic bottles (and glass and metal cans) on a large scale, since they are still available to be purchased. If they were off the shelves, or supermarkets refused to sell bottled water (à la Sheffield Students’ Union) I think that would make more progress and would be a better precedent to set.