Say goodbye to litter! Well, not all of it, but the days of PET plastic bottles and aluminium cans scattered here and there, floating in our rivers and rolling along our roads and out to the sea could well become a thing of the past. We are a part of the environment, not apart from it and if we damage it, ultimately we damage ourselves. The flipside of that is if take responsibility for our actions and do our best to look after the environment, we look after not only ourselves but future generations, too.
There’s only so much stuff on the planet. If we want to keep living on it, we’ve got to take much better care of how we use our resources. A high-performing DRS will go a long way toward ensuring that, with regard to bottles and cans at least, we’ll keep these materials in the loop and won’t need to produce them from scratch each time.
Everyone loves to see their neighbourhood look clean and tidy. It helps to create pride in an area and can strengthen community bonds. Think about how it makes you feel to see your road all littered. Plastic bottles and cans make up a good deal of our roadside litter – a DRS that we all buy into and use will put a stop to that!
Businesses work hard to keep their doors open and the last thing they need are dirty streets which might put people off visiting them. Anything we can do to entice people back out onto our shopping streets post-lockdown has got to be good for business. This is even more important when we consider how many outdoor dining options we have now. We’ve cut down on the cars and traffic – we can do the same with litter.
SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS
In a world of tightened purse-strings, a DRS offers a new and exciting way to fundraise. It also presents a welcome opportunity to explore issues relating to litter and the environment whilst making a direct link between the actions of young people (collecting and bringing empty bottles and cans) and positive outcomes (funds being raised for the school or community group).
Many of us remember the days before the plastic bag levy was introduced in Ireland. Well, 2002 isn’t that long ago! By charging customers a small levy on plastic bags in shops, not only did the litter associated with plastic bags drop, people began to use and re-use their own bags to the point where it has now second-nature to most of us to bring our bags with us when we go shopping. A high-performing DRS will have a similar effect. Levels of litter associated with bottles and cans will drop hugely whilst bringing our empty containers with us when we go to the shops will become a natural part of the routine.
Belatedly, governments around the world are starting to take the threat posed to us by climate change more seriously. Although many will argue they are not taking it seriously enough, we can state as fact that simple actions like recycling help us to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. If we look at Norway, for example, their DRS saw them reach a peak of 95.4% recovery of plastic bottles and 96.6% of cans. There is no reason those kind of recycling rates can’t be reached in Ireland, too.
The Irish Government suggests that tourism was worth €9.3 billion in 2019 and supported roughly 325,000 jobs; in other words, it is a very important industry for us. People come from all over the world to the Emerald Isle, wanting to immerse themselves in our culture and natural heritage. As such, our ‘green credentials’ are vital. A tourist who falls in love with clean, beautiful landscapes is far more likely to return (and tell all their friends to do likewise) than a disappointed one who sees a country which talks the green talk but does not walk that walk.