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Research shows explosive growth in deposit return systems

Governments around the world are increasingly choosing deposit return systems (DRS) as a tool to manage plastics, glass bottle and aluminium can waste, claims a report by circular economy platform Reloop. The data shows that by the end of 2020, 291 million people will have access to a DRS, increasing by an additional 207m by the end of 2023.

European countries with DRS are found to have the highest rate of success, with an average beverage container return rate of 91 per cent. Australia’s deposit programmes, which are relatively new compared to other jurisdictions, have the lowest success rates so far, with an average return rate of 68 per cent.

The return-to-retail model of DRS – where empty bottles and cans are returned for a refund of the deposit at shops where they are purchased – is the most effective, with an average return rate of 89 per cent, compared to return-to-redemption centre or depot systems, which have an average return rate of 81 per cent.

Clarissa Morawski, chief executive of Reloop, said: “This is good news for the planet. It reveals that each year more and more countries are realising the need for DRS to collect and recycle valuable cans and bottles and to address the massive crisis in wasted containers, many of which end up as litter.

“Deposit Return Systems are the only proven way for a country to achieve recycling rates of over 90 per cent, meaning fewer bottles and cans in our forests and on our beaches.”