Waste industry experts are warning that facilities for returning glass bottles in retail stores will not be able to cope with the huge rise in numbers at peak times such as at Christmas.
With in store reverse vending machines (RVMs) designed to accommodate just 60kg of glass (about 220 whole bottles), the size of facility is likely to be insufficient during seasonal peak times when consumption can surge by up to 60%.
Another problem is that glass jars, which are not accepted in the Deposit Return Scheme and are a highly valuable source of clear glass for recycling, could simply be lost to landfill.
Dr Nick Kirk, Technical Director of British Glass explained: “Under the proposed new system, household glass collections could become a thing of the past.
“Jars make up around 15-20% of a typical kerbside box and without glass bottles, it is likely that they will not provide a sufficient incentive for local authorities to continue to collect.”
With a quarter² of Scottish consumers already saying they won’t be returning their glass bottles to collect the deposit; the concern is that both bottles and jars will go straight into the general waste bin instead.
“With widespread concerns over plastic packaging, glass jars have been making a welcome comeback. It would be a dreadful irony if those 100% recyclable glass jars were to end up in the bin and ultimately land-filled, due to a poorly designed Deposit Return Scheme” says Dr Kirk.
Any decrease in the amount of clear glass in the system is a serious worry for the glass reprocessing industry too.
Michael Durr, Managing Director of Glass Recycling UK added: “The majority of glass packaging processing plants in the UK are now designed to process a specially configured mix of glass: clear, green and amber.
“If there is less of any one of these coming through, such as clear glass because kerbside or bottle banks become financially unviable, it will significantly increase the cost of processing the remaining glass in the system.
Dr Kirk said a better way to recycle glass is the forthcoming UK-wide polluter pays scheme (known as Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR).
EPR is set to deliver a higher glass recycling rate and save nearly double the CO2emissions at a fraction of the cost or upheaval.
“The EPR polluter pays scheme is already in the pipeline. It can separate out and collect more clear glass, which the deposit return scheme cannot.
"It will also save around an extra 17,000 tonnes of C02 annually vs 9,335 tonnes of CO2³ if glass is included in the deposit return scheme” Dr Kirk concluded.