Northern Ireland are also looking at a Deposit System
A “money back” recycling scheme, in whichused drinks containers are exchanged for cash, could be re-introduced in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said it could help to reduce litter and boost recycling.
He said a deposit scheme, where the public received 10p for each glass bottle they returned, had operated in Northern Ireland in the past.
The minister is awaiting the results of similar pilot projects in Scotland.
Over the last two years, the Scottish government has been exploring how a Deposit Return System (DRS) for drinks bottles and cans could work within its jurisdiction.
It asked Zero Waste Scotland to commission a feasibility study, the results of which was published last month.
The Scottish research found there were no major obstacles to a DRS recycling scheme, but industry leaders issued a warning about the potential costs to businesses.
Mr Durkan has now asked his own officials in Stormont’s Department of Environment to begin work on a feasibility study in Northern Ireland.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I actually took up my ministerial role nearly two years ago now,” Mr Durkan told BBC Radio Foyle.
“I’m always keen to explore ideas about how we move towards a zero waste society, which is my ultimate ambition and I believe that’s an ambition which should be shared by all of us.”
Mr Durkan said he believed the ending of the previous cash-back bottle recycling scheme in Northern Ireland was cost-driven, because “advances in production” methods had reduced the price of manufacturing drinks containers.
‘Back to go forward’
However, he said the public and businesses were now more aware that cheaper production methods could mean long-term costs for the environment.
“We, as a society, have changed a lot over the years,” the minister said.
“We haven’t always changed for the better and I think it’s important that we do everything we can to change for the better again, and if that means going back to go forward, I’m certainly prepared to do that.
“We know a lot more about recycling now, we know a lot more about the damage the practices we have been carrying out over decades and centuries have been doing to the environment.”
In a statement, Mr Durkan’s department said the proposed system would accept the “broadest range of materials and the suggested deposit would be between 10p and 20p, depending on volume”.
“Deposits would be returned manually by retailers or through automated reverse vending machines,” it added.
Reverse Vending www.reversevending.co.uk