Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Council to debate reintroduction of cash-for-bottles scheme

Years ago, a gang of kids could have made cash retrieving the treasure trove of glass bottles embedded in the banks of the River Bann and selling them back to shops.

And that's the thinking behind the latest proposals by UUP councillor Colin McCusker, who was horrified by the number of bottles he found when taking part in the IWAI clean-up of the Newry Canal.

Tonight Craigavon Council will be debating his proposal to call on Environment Minister Alex Attwood to bring back the bottle return scheme, a fondly remembered staple of many of our childhoods.

The idea is that instead of glass bottles being discarded, they could be returned to the shops for a small sum of money -- cutting down on one of the most dangerous sources of litter being encountered in our Big Spring drive.

"There were bottles lodged into the banks of the river which had clearly been there for years. There were bottles of spirits, large brown bottles of cider, and this was repeated the full length of the river," Councillor McCusker said.

"The glass bottles reminded me of when I was a child and I would have gathered bottles out of hedges to get a few pence to buy sweets from the shop. Adults would also have given you bottles to bring back," he said. Councillor McCusker says the introduction of the new plastic levy shows such a scheme could be administered.

The Department of the Environment said the idea of a refundable deposit scheme in conjunction with the rest of the UK has already been looked at.

"As part of their Waste Policy Review the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in England assessed proposals put forward by the Campaign for Rural England in relation to the introduction of a beverage container deposit system," a spokesman said.

"The minister has requested a briefing on the proposal, which may be more feasible if taken forward on an all-Ireland basis.

"The minister believes that, meanwhile, pushing on with challenging recycling targets -- including for bottles -- is one of a number of ways to address the issue."

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