Findings from study into DRS alternative unveiled

GREENREDEEM has unveiled the results from its study into a potential alternative to a deposit return scheme.
 
The study came amidst ongoing discussions over the possibility of the introduction of a DRS system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – with Scotland having already confirmed that a DRS is to be introduced in the country, following a recent vote in parliament.
 
Greenredeem said that it wanted to “Explore an alternative recycling solution (to DRS) that could provide greater impact, while supporting kerbside recycling collections, benefiting local authorities and reducing the costs of a DRS.”
 
The company ran a scalable loop recycling model in 25 different schools over a year long period. The interactive recycling kiosks allowed pupils to scan and deposit plastic drinks bottles whilst engaging with videos, images and facts about recycling and the environment at the kiosks. Every bottle scanned earned 5 pence for the school, to be spent on further educational initiatives.
 
They added that, by offering education and financial benefits, the kiosks created a ‘focal point’ for engagement, with the model improving recycling quality and capture rates, reducing litter and contributing to a circular economy.
 
Some 12,000 pupils recycled nearly 160,000 plastic bottles over the course of 12 months. The bottles were collected from the kiosks each week and used to create new plastic containers.
 
Greenredeem also comissioned surveys to help track the impact that a school-based incentive scheme could have on attitudes towards recycling. There was over 2,000 respondents in total, with the results showing:

 

  •  Awareness of the impact of plastic pollution grew from 88% to 93% 

• 75% said that being able to help a local school motivated them to recycle more

• Respondents claiming to recycle all plastic bottles when not at home grew from 56% to 62%

Matthew Ball, managing director of Greenredeem, said, “In the UK, 3 billion plastic bottles are thrown away, littered or never recycled every year. There is a clear need for the Government and the industry – from manufacturer to retailer, collector to processor – to find long term solutions. But DRS alone are not the answer. We must invest in convenient solutions that create sustained behaviour change by linking recycling with education, good causes and people’s priorities.
 

“The flexible model we piloted provides a readily available and scalable solution which benefits everyone involved. The kiosk is a focal point and conduit for recycling that could be rolled out in other ways across the UK – including through an app – to ensure the cost-effective capture of plastic bottles. We look forward to discussing the outcomes of this pilot with Defra as it consults on England’s future waste & recycling strategy.

“Although the financial reward helped to drive action, the educational initiatives ensured a deeper connection to the cause, helping these behaviours to become sustained. If Government backs this kind of long-term model, we can make a significant improvement to plastic bottle recycling in the UK.” 

Jo Ruxton, founder & director of Plastic Oceans UK added, “This process worked for two main reasons. Firstly, because it used targeted messaging around the need to reduce and reuse plastic delivered through award winning lesson plans, which we know is the most important way to deal with plastic items designed for single-use.

“Secondly, the Greenredeem process provides a closed loop system specifically designed to make the best re-use of a high-value type of plastic that can go through the process many times without losing quality. Having this system within schools helps to educate the next generation to understand the importance of living sustainably with plastics.” 

Jane Wardle, business manager from Wessex Primary School, said, “By encouraging everyone to get involved with simple and effective practices and incentives, this scheme helped to not only raise awareness of responsible recycling of plastic bottles, but also earned money for schools. We’re thrilled with the community effort that was achieved.”