An advantageous deposit system

Did you ever wake up with a headache on a Sunday afternoon, to the unmistakable stench of old alcohol? Dehydrated and miserable, you get out of bed and start walking towards the kitchen, where you discover a total mess from last night’s party. Feeling rather hopeless, you start cleaning up by collecting the empty bottles and hope the hangover soon will pass …


I think most people who ever hosted a house party have experienced this. However, there may be a small light at the end of the tunnel.

In the Netherlands, you can return big plastic bottles and beer crates at supermarkets and get a refund of the deposit you payed when purchasing. This system promotes litter reduction, and energy and resource conservation, through giving consumers an incentive to recycle. However, as already much discussed, the system has more potential.

When you recycle only one bottle, you save enough energy to charge your mobile phone 12 times. In Scandinavia, an extended deposit system also includes small plastic bottles and beer cans. This results in a high recycling rate, which is even better for the environment. In Norway, the recycling rates for plastic bottles have been around 95% the last years, according to Infinitum. This contributes to cleaner cities and especially parks where people spend time drinking on warm summer days.

Brunnengruppe im Vigelandpark (Frognerpark), Oslo, Norwegen

“May I have your empty bottle?” is a question you are likely to hear, usually asked by a homeless person, if you hang out in Frognerparken in Oslo. The homeless person gets a few kroners (Norwegian currency), and you do not have to worry about your waste.

I think an extended deposit system is more sustainable and has many advantages for the environment. The Netherlands is a country with enough resources to realize this. People could be educated and stimulated through the media to recycle everything – always. Or as we would say in Norwegian: “Pant alt. Alltid.”

The video below is an opportunity to practice your Norwegian. It is only 1 minute long. Translation:

– The waste of an empty box like this cannot matter, you may think. It is like a drop in the ocean. But if there weren’t a drop in the ocean there wouldn’t be an ocean at all.

One! You take the bottles and the cans

Two! Not some, but all of them, and put them in the bag

Three! You identify the deposit machine

Four! You take a little breath before the finale


Five! Then you take the bottle or the can, you put it in the wall, and then it comes back!

Then you take the bottle or the can, you put it in the wall, and then it comes back!

How does it feel then? It feels so good!

How does it feel then? It feels so good!

– Because a returned box becomes a part of a cycle, just like a river, that is forever useful. Wish it were I.

It feels so good!

And then, to come back to the light at the end of the tunnel, if you were still wondering about that – you could take the empty bottles and cans with you to pay for your aspirin, of course.


3 thoughts on “An advantageous deposit system”

  1. Extending the deposits system in the Netherlands is much more feasible because many of the infastructure for bottles aswell as awarenes in the Dutch society are already in place. The general concept of a deposits system is, though effective, extremely expensive. Therefore I highly doubt that a deposits system will be “The” solution managing waste from bottles beyond the boundaries of the first world.
    Also, the best way to handle a hangover is hands down the infamous “antikaterbiertje”. The first few sips will fill you up with sadness, you will feel better once you reach the bottom of the bottle.


  2. Just today I saw a sort of vending machine at a subway station in Rotterdam, where you could deposit small plastic bottles in return for a ticket of some sort. I didn’t have the time to really check it but it made me think of the possibilities to put this expanded deposit system in place. Small bottles are often carried on the go compared to big bottles, so putting them at specific places connected to transportation seems like a good idea. I’m definitely trying that vending machine next time!


  3. Your post made me think of a video I saw a few months ago, where a sort of vending machine accepts (plastic)bottles/cans and in return, releases dog food to feed various stray animals. This vending machine made by Pugedo, was first found in Istanbul, Turkey, and is now also found in many surrounding cities. Though this wouldn’t really work in the Netherlands, as there are not many stray animals. I believe that this is a great innovation that should be shared with the world. It not only helps people recycle but also feeds many stray animals. I think this would be a very good concept in many countries who have high populations of stray animals and bad recycling.


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