Deposit on small plastic bottles to reduce street litter
1 July 2021 will see the introduction of a deposit on small plastic bottles. This is what State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven has arranged with the packaging sector. From that day on, a 15 cent deposit will be added to each small bottle (< 1 litre). The deposit on larger bottles (> 1 litre) will remain at 25 cents. Plastic bottles may be returned in supermarkets, at train stations along motorways, and through caterers. This measure is intended to lead to a significant reduction in the volume of plastic street litter. Responsibility for the introduction of the deposit system will be vested with the manufacturers of the drinks bottles. Hotels, restaurants, cafés and small businesses will be exempt from the obligation to collect small plastic bottles.
Ms Van Veldhoven: ‘The corona crisis is our top priority. At the same time, I am continuing my efforts in other fields in the pursuit of a healthy and clean future. This includes the combating of plastic soup and street litter. The introduction of a deposit scheme requires about a year of preparation; that is why we are now making things clear for all parties concerned.’
Combating plastic soup
This decision will put a stop to the debate on a deposit scheme for small plastic bottles, which has been going on for 20 years. Ms Van Veldhoven has pursued a two-track strategy focused on the end (reducing litter) rather than the means (deposits). In 2018, agreements were first made with the business community and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities VNG to achieve a 70-90% reduction in the number of small plastic bottles ending up in the environment. Failure to accomplish this would entail the introduction of a deposit system. This is the case now. By levying a deposit on small plastic bottles, State Secretary Van Veldhoven aims to keep the plastic bottles out of our environment. Out of the approx. 900 million small plastic bottles that are sold every year, some 100 million end up in the environment. Estimates are that under this deposit system, 90% of the – small and large – plastic bottles will be returned.
Hotels, restaurants, cafés and small businesses exempt
In the near future the bottles may be returned to some 12,000 collection points: in supermarkets (> 200 m2), through caterers, at train stations with manned sales booths, and at large petrol stations along motorways. Hotels, restaurants, cafés and small businesses will be exempt from the obligation to collect small bottles. Schools and sports clubs may volunteer to set up a collection point. Manufacturers are responsible for the implementation and the costs of the new deposit scheme. An implementation organisation will be set up to assist all the collecting parties in rolling out the deposit scheme next year. For example, new collection machines will be required as well as equipment to flatten the bottles, and transport and sorting arrangements need to be made. It goes without saying that all the corona precautions will be observed in this respect.
The subsequent step that State Secretary Van Veldhoven envisages to combat street litter involves cutting back the number of drinks cans in the environment. To this end, Ms Van Veldhoven will pursue a strategy similar to the one pertaining to bottles. By the autumn of 2021, the number of cans in street litter must have been reduced by 70-90%. Failure to achieve this goal will prompt the introduction of a deposit scheme for cans. Ms Van Veldhoven: ‘In my opinion, the number of cans in street litter must decrease considerably, one way or the other. I am discussing this issue with the business community and with the Association of Netherlands Municipalities VNG. We have already commenced the preparations for the legislation and regulations regarding a deposit on cans, which means we will have everything ready should we need to introduce such a deposit scheme for cans.’ A decision on such an introduction is scheduled to be taken by the autumn of 2021. Meanwhile, the government and the business community are launching a collective campaign to combat street litter. After all, discouraging people from disposing of their waste in the environment remains the most effective way to fight litter.