What it says on the tin
While in Norway over Christmas I discovered they’d taken bottle recycling to a new level. We’ve had machines paying 20 cents per bottle for a long time, ensuring a return percentage in the high 90s. The return machines, which are located in supermarkets, have now been combined with two great ideas – charity and instant lottery – by giving you the option of donating your change to Red Cross, and in return get the option of winning a large cash prize. Win-win-win.
So how can we get to 100%?
Returning bottles is now such an ingrained part of culture that throwing a bottle in the bin feels a bit like littering. My guess is that the thousands of bottles that aren’t returned mostly end up in public bins, as taking a single bottle to the nearest supermarket is just too much hassle. However, as a bottle equates a lost coin there are many people who are more than happy to pick it up, predominantly kids, homeless and the elderly (many of which live on a minimum pension which is a stain on an otherwise admirable welfare system). The two latter groups are thus put through the humility of searching through the trash (the kids don’t care so much). I think all it takes is a simple campaign asking people to leave their bottles next to the bin instead of in it. The bottles will be found by those in need long before the bottles get the chance to pile up, and the collectors don’t have to sacrifice their dignity in the search for some spare change.