Anker Andersen A/S
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Deposit laws

To reach the objectives of maximum recycling of used beverage containers and minimum use of natural resources in the beverage container industry, the necessity of an effective deposit/refund system is indisputable.  No country where the collection of used beverage containers has been based on voluntary collection methods, be it drop-off systems, curbside systems or household waste sorting systems, has ever been able to show collection and recycling rates even close to those obtained by countries which have introduced an efficient deposit/refund system. 

Let us take the US as an example:

Every year, nearly 200 billion beverage containers are sold, two thirds of which end in landfill sites, are incinerated or littered. According to the Container Recycling Institute, beverage container sales have increased more than five-fold in the last 30 years while recycling rates have decreased from 53.5% in 1992 to 33.5% in 2004. In the eleven states which have decided on a deposit/refund system and passed a Bottle Bill in their state senates, the average return and recycling rate is between 70% and 95%, whereas in the states without a Bottle Bill, the average return rate is a discouraging 37%. These figures differ dramatically from equivalent figures in countries which have adopted a nationwide deposit/refund system.

Most Scandinavian countries have a tradition for deposit/refund systems spanning a decade. Since a deposit/refund scheme was introduced for one-way bottles in Denmark in 2002, the total recycling of beverage containers has reached 84% (2005 figures). In Sweden, the equivalent figure is between 85% and 90%, depending on the type of beverage container. Germany introduced a nationwide deposit/refund scheme as late as 2006, but the return and recycling rate has reached an amazing 95% (according to the DPG, Deutsche Pfandsystem GmbH). 

The main objectives of introducing a nationwide deposit/refund system should be:

  • To establish compliance with the European Parliament and Council Directive on packaging waste within the timeframe provided.
  • To motivate society and industry to recycle and reuse the packaging waste and thereby reduce the ruthless exploitation of natural resources.
  • To reduce or eliminate littering of empty beverage containers. It takes several hundred years before these materials are composted in nature.
  • To extend the lifetime of already existing landfills.
  • To protect children and animals from getting injured by broken or fragmented glass and metal scrap in nature.

European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC:

According to the above directive including the amendment 2004/12/EC on packaging and packaging waste, the following minimum objectives must be met before 31 December 2008 relating to the recycling of the raw materials that form part of packaging waste:
  • 60% of glass
  • 50% of metal
  • 22.5% of plastic

Some key figures:

  • Packaging waste constitutes some 5% of all waste.
  • Packaging waste constitutes about 17% of municipal waste measured in weight.
  • Packaging waste constitutes 20–30% of municipal waste measured in volume.
  • Used beverage containers constitute c. 20% of packaging waste produced by consumers.
  • Recycling 1 ton of aluminum reduces CO2 emissions by 11 tons.
  • The recycling of aluminum only requires 5% of the energy required to produce virgin aluminum.
  • Aluminum can be recycled again and again without loss of quality.
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