Who recycles most ?
Lithuanians, apparently, according to The Economist magazine on 11 January.
In 2017, they recycled 74% of all plastic packaging waste, compared with a European Union average of 42% and less than 30% for Finland and France.
Of particular relevance to other countries, a turning point for Lithuania came with the introduction of a deposit return scheme in 2016. Consumers now pay an extra 0.10 euros per pack and receive a refund when they put the empty pack into a reverse vending machine where they shop.
Nearly 90% of Lithuanians have now used these machines. By the end of 2017, 92% of all bottles and cans sold were being returned. Plastic recycling had increased by 20%. Can recycling had almost tripled.
The Economist comments that the deposit is relatively high for many Lithuanians, enough for some to scavenge in bins for the deposit value.
In contrast, Germany’s deposit return scheme – in operation since 2003 – has not been sufficient to encourage ever greater levels of return. Instead, “the earnings from keeping the deposits from unreturned bottles seem to have discouraged producers from switching to more sustainable packaging.”