In Sweden (and some other countries such as Germany and Norway), you pay a deposit on plastic bottles and cans that gets refunded when you later bring the containers to the recycling station.
People trudging to the supermarket with their plastic bags full of cans and bottles is thus a common sight, and there is even a word for it: to panta (the word pant means deposit in Swedish).
The scheme has been around for decades, and last year was particularly good. On average, Swedes recycled 183 cans and PET bottles per person this way – in total almost 17,000 tonnes aluminium and more than 20,000 tonnes of PET bottles, which got turned into new cans and bottles.
“It's a record year,” Katarina Lundell, head of communications for Pantamera, the campaign run by bottle recycling company Returpack to encourage Swedes to recycle more, told newswire TT.
Around 85 percent of all cans and PET bottles sold in Sweden are recycled via the official scheme – healthy statistics compared to international figures, but they fail to reach Sweden's own targets.
“The goal is to reach 90 percent. But sales and consumption continuously increase. Young adults are consuming a lot, so we have to do more to impact attitudes and behaviour,” said Lundell.
Earlier this year, the UK government announced a new bid to make shoppers in England start paying a refundable deposit for single-use drink containers.
But in Sweden this system has been around since 1984, when pant was first introduced on aluminium cans. Today, the deposit is 1-2 kronor depending on the size of the bottle. (approximately $0.12-0.24).
The system is run by Returpack Svenska AB, a company privately owned by brewery and grocery organizations Sveriges Bryggerier, Livsmedelshandlarna and Svensk Dagligvaruhandel.