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Worldwide call for a Clean Planet: Bring in container deposits to combat pollution from bottles and cans

Amsterdam, 9 May 2019 – A worldwide network of environmental organisations from five continents is calling for the worldwide introduction of deposit return systems for drink containers. On Thursday 9 May at 9 am local time, these environmental organisations displayed the words ‘Clean Planet’ at iconic places in more than 20 participating countries.

In the Netherlands, the Recycling Netwerk Benelux, the Plastic Soup Foundation and GoClean De Liemers took part in this action. The enormous letters spelling out ‘Clean Planet’ – made from discarded drink cans found in litter – appeared on the banks of the Nederrijn river near Arnhem.

Attention to worldwide environmental pollution
This action draws attention to the global environmental pollution caused by drink containers. Around 1.6 trillion containers were sold worldwide in 2015 and it is expected that in 2019 this number will reach 1.9 trillion. Many of these end up in our environment. Container deposit systems are a proven and effective measure to prevent this pollution. The Statiegeldalliantie, speaking on behalf of almost all Dutch municipalities, all twelve provinces, all 21 water boards and 190 companies, has been calling for some time for extension of the statiegeld deposit system in the Netherlands to include cans and small plastic bottles.

The European Union wants to tackle drink container pollution effectively. The new European directive on single-use plastics stipulates that within ten years, 90% of plastic bottles must be selectively collected in all member states. In practice, this means introducing a deposit on plastic bottles in all EU countries, because such a high collection rate can only be achieved with a deposit return system.

Deposit on cans
With this action, environmental organisations in the Netherlands are drawing attention to container deposits specifically on drink cans. They ask the Dutch government to include cans in the legislative process for statiegeld. Together with bottles, cans usually account for 40 percent of all litter. During World Cleanup Day in September 2018, more than 35,000 pieces of litter were removed and recorded in the Netherlands. Among the most commonly found items, cans ranked number two and bottles came in third, according to research by the Plastic Soup Foundation. The cans pose a danger to animals and especially to cows. When a discarded can on pasture land is mowed, sharp pieces can get into feed for cattle. This leads to internal bleeding and perforated intestines in cows, which can kill them.

Deposit return systems are already effective in combating pollution from plastic bottles and cans in forty countries. As a result, the share of large bottles in street litter has been reduced by 70 to 90 percent, as calculated by research agency CE Delft in a study commissioned by the Dutch government.