Sunday, May 31, 2009

Do you love the sound of breaking glass?

I don't just mean in a crowded room. Over the last few years, the possibilities for recycling have grown hugely, which is excellent. With a house-move on the horizon, we're going through a lot of stuff at the moment, and charity shops and recycling banks will be doing a roaring trade.

The thing is, I've been thinking about glass. It's great to recycle glass - it uses much less energy to recycle a bottle than to make one from scratch. My question is: wouldn't it be much, much better to have returnable bottles instead?

When I was a kid, I remember home delivered beer. Davenports, a Birmingham brewery, delivered in Nottingham, and the returnable bottles came in a wooden (returnable) crate. They even had a song and I can remember the tune and the TV ad! Apparently they have no copy of the classic ad that we Midlanders remember, so check out your VHS tapes - Highgate Brewery were offering a reward.

Also, I remember soft drinks and beer came in returnable bottles at the off-licence (or beer-off as we called them in the East Midlands). You got 5p back on the bottle when you took it back for something else from the shop. Simple!

Over in the USA, they have bottle collection points at supermarkets that scan the bar codes as the bottles are returned and automatically print out a credit note to spend in-store. The only condition is that the store sells the beer brand. Not sure whether the bottles are recycled or washed and refilled, but it's a start.

Now I wonder what that would do to energy consumption, recycling rates and even litter. If every bottle was returnable and worth, say 5p or 10p? Would we see quite so many shattered bottles of Becks, etc in the streets on a Sunday morning?

1 comment:

Emma said...

In Germany you pay a small deposit (pfand) on drinks that you buy in plastic bottles that you can get back if you return it to the shop you bought it from. (You might be able to take it back to any shop that sells that type of drink - I'm not sure.) And the plastic was much better quality too - I kept a couple of bottles for a while to reuse myself because they were thicker and more resilient than English ones.