Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Having a Deposit System for PET bottles

Posted by butalidnl on 20 January 2011

Plastic bottled water and some soft drinks bottles are made of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate). With the widespread use of bottled water, especially that in 0.5 liter PET bottles, the amount of PET that end up in our garbage gets more by the year. It is thus quite important to have a system to recycle this PET plastic, if only so that we do not get overwhelmed by it in our garbage dumps.

PET is the plastic which is probably the easiest to recycle, and perhaps for this reason, we should start with recycling it. The reason for its ease in recycling is that plastic water bottles and soft drink bottles are almost exclusively PET (i.e. only the cap is not PET). And there are indeed a number of companies in the Philippines that do recycle PET.

There have been numerous attempts to recycle PET bottles, and they have usually been successful – to a point.  The problem lies in the collection of the bottles; the value of the PET in a half liter bottle is something like 25 centavos. If this is the only way to recover PET bottles, there will be lots of bottles that won’t get collected.  There should be a system to get almost all PET bottles back – that way, their recycling would go into high steam.

I propose that there be a deposit on every PET bottle.  In the first place, products in PET bottles are non-essential; so the additional cost of the deposit will not adversely affect the consumption and distribution of an essential product.  If every PET bottle had a deposit of Php 1 (for 0,5 liter bottles), and Php 2 for larger PET bottles; I think we could be almost sure that all PET bottles will be returned.

There could be a government agency to administer this deposit system. This agency will pay out 1 or 2 pesos per bottle; of course, this also means that it will first collect 1 or 2 pesos whenever a PET bottle is produced. This will involve an initial expenditure for the government, but this should not be a problem, since it will be able to sell the PET bottles to recyclers for 25 to 50 centavos apiece (it should ensure that recyclers also make money on the transaction).

And while there will a problem of extra PET bottles – of PET bottles to which no deposit was collected, but submitted for deposit collection. This will only be in the beginning. And, it won’t be a bad thing if people start recovering PET bottles from the garbage to do it. The government can handle this initial problem; besides, the idea is profitable in the long run because of the 25 centavos that the government can collect from the PET recycling companies.

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