Op 9 maart gevonden flessen langs de Maas bij Maastricht
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Delaying the expansion of the deposit system ignores calls from society and is bad news for the environment, say Recycling Netwerk, Greenpeace Netherlands, Plastic Soup Foundation and Stichting Noordzee

Op 9 maart gevonden flessen langs de Maas bij Maastricht

Op 9 maart gevonden flessen langs de Maas bij Maastricht

Amsterdam, 10 March – The decision by the Dutch government to postpone the expansion of the deposit system is bad news for the environment. Furthermore the decision ignores calls from over 200 municipalities to expand the deposit system this year. Methods put forward by the sector to reduce litter are not making any difference, if anything they just get in the way of improving the deposit system. This is the response by environmental organizations Recycling Netwerk, Greenpeace Netherlands, Plastic Soup Foundation and Stichting De Noordzee to a letter from Deputy Infrastructure and Water Management Minister Stientje van Veldhoven on litter and the expansion of the deposit system.

“Postponing this measure for another three years means millions of extra bottles and caps will end up in the environment and contribute to plastic soup worldwide before the deposit system is possibly expanded sometime in the future. We find the government’s decision disappointing,” environmental organizations Recycling Netwerk, Greenpeace Netherlands, Plastic Soup Foundation and Stichting De Noordzee said in a joint statement on Saturday morning (10 March2018).

On Friday (9 March 2018), a survey by market researcher GfK revealed a large majority (80%) of Dutch citizens want to see the deposit system expanded to include all bottles and tins. 83% of Christian Democrat voters support an expansion of the system, and so do 79% of conservative liberal VVD voters. 85% of progressive liberal D66 voters, the deputy minister’s own party, want the deposit system to be expanded to include all plastic bottles and tins.

Kleine versus grote flessen die gevonden zijn langs de Maas bij Maastricht.

Kleine versus grote flessen die gevonden zijn langs de Maas bij Maastricht.

Communication campaigns by the packaging sector have been running for years, but have so far failed to clean up our streets and beaches. In 2002, the companies managed to shelf the expansion of the deposit system by promising to reduce the number of bottles and tins in litter by 80% within three years. This goal was never met, but the deposit system was still not expanded. Now 16 years later, history threatens to repeat itself: further delay could spell an end to proposals to expand the system.

We know that deposit systems work, as they have been shown to do so in Scandinavia and Germany. Over 200 municipalities have drawn the same conclusion and have joined the Statiegeldalliantie (Deposit System Alliance). The federations of farmers and fishermen are in favor of expanding the deposit system, as are 80% of people in the Netherlands. “It is indefensible that the government is delaying the implementation of a simple environmental measure which has the support of 80% of the population and over 200 municipalities,” say the environmental organizations.

Agricultural, fishery and municipal interests

The deputy minister’s letter fails to even mention tins. Taking half measures has huge consequences. It means there will be no solution to prevent tins ending up in the environment, nor for dairy and cattle farmers whose livestock are injured by razor sharp pieces of tin in their stomachs. The debate about the expansion of the deposit system to include tins, however, will not go away. Last week, the Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture (LTO Nederland) joined the Statiegeldalliantie (Deposit System Alliance). Last week, VisNed also advocated expanding the deposit system for the sake of clean sea water.

Meanwhile municipalities are fighting a running battle, as clearing up litter costs them around 250 million euros in tax money every year. An expanded deposit system would reduce the volume of plastic bottles and tins in litter in the environment by 70 to 90 percent.  Over 200 Dutch municipalities became partners of the Statiegeldalliantie, asking for the deposit system to be expanded this year.

Lower House

The Rutte government promised to be the greenest government ever, but it seems that it is going to break its promise with regard to the circular economy and deposit system.

The environmental organizations hope that the Lower House will push for the immediate expansion of the deposit system on bottles and tins a debate on 15 March 2018. “It is vital that we and the government take further steps on a pathway that works, that pathway is via the deposit system. That is why The Hague, the government and the Lower House, must take swift and concrete steps on the pathway to expanding the deposits system to include all bottles and tins,” declare Recycling Netwerk, Greenpeace Netherlands, Plastic Soup Foundation and Stichting De Noordzee.


Also read: An underestimated threat: the pollution of land by microplastics.