A bottle return scheme pilot involving rewards provider Greenredeem and the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead has been extended after 60,000 PET plastic bottles were collected from schools.
The scheme has run for an initial 16 weeks and involved 16 schools across the Berkshire borough.
Reverse vending machines have been installed at each of the schools who receive a 5p donation for every plastic bottle collected, funded by the project partners.
60,000 bottles, equating to around 2 tonnes of plastic, were redeemed through the pilot, and £3,000 of revenue generated for the schools. It is now being extended to a further nine schools across the borough which will receive rewards for up to a maximum of 40,000 bottles per school.
Bottles collected are taken to Grundon’s Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in Colnbrook, before being transported to the Cleantech bottle recycling facility at Hemswell in Lincolnshire to be reprocessed into rPET for use in manufacturing.
Greenredeem says that the outcomes of the pilot will be presented to Defra as evidence as the government considers proposals to introduce a DRS in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Commenting on the scheme, Matthew Ball, managing director of Greenredeem, said: “The government’s recent Resources and Waste Strategy outlines ambitions to roll out a deposit return scheme (DRS) for disposable beverage containers, but not until 2023.
“Our pilot provides a readily available scalable solution linked to education. By creating a closed loop system for plastic bottle recycling which benefits all stakeholders we believe that this model can make a significant contribution to increasing capture rate and in turn reduce the number of plastic bottles that are thrown away and not recycled.”
Greenredeem says that its pilot comes at a time when the economics of the ‘self-funding commercial model’ for collecting plastic bottles is in question, in particular following questions raised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), which called for the government’s plans for a deposit return scheme in England to be abandoned unless “a more robust economic case” can be made (see letsrecycle.com story).
In support of the initiative Royal Borough schools that participate also have access to educational resources provided by Plastic Oceans Foundation UK.
An elearning portal has been developed with bespoke lesson plans, activities and information to support classroom delivery.
Natasha Rutherford, marketing & comms manager at Plastic Oceans UK added that the scheme has been successful by combining incentives with education.
She said: “Plastic is an incredible material which in a matter of decades has completely transformed the way we live. It is not the enemy; it is in fact our attitudes towards plastic that are.
“We must educate the next generation to understand the importance of our oceans and to find a way to live sustainably with plastics. The combination of education with the scheme and targeted messaging to promote reduce, reuse, recycle alongside the collection is imperative, and a powerful tool for instigating behaviour change.”