DEPOSIT ON PLASTIC BOTTLES AND CANS

Finally a deposit on plastic bottles and cans! The litter will really decrease! The business community will be held responsible.

The breakthrough: a smart motion that forced a 90% reduction in litter from plastic bottles. That only works with a deposit system.

What did it take? A self-written motion, a kitesurfing crossing of the North Sea, 60,000 signatures, a 1000 km suptour down the Rhine, 10 visits with bailiffs to the CEOs of retail chains and soft drink companies. And a lot of pressure from supporters such as Dirk Groot, Go Clean and the Plastic Avengers. Until politics made the move.

Much less plastic litter

What did we aim for?

  1. Much less litter from plastic bottles and cans, a major source of plastic pollution.
  2. Responsibility of the companies: they must reduce litter caused by their products.
  3. More conscious consumer behavior: if waste gets value through a deposit, you don't throw it away carelessly

We first focused on a deposit on plastic bottles, then on cans.

75.000.000 littered plastic bottles

The situation around 2015: 75 million plastic bottles end up on the street, on the roadside, on the beach and in nature every year.

Despite the fact that deposits on large plastic bottles works well, the industry and supermarkets have been able to postpone charging a deposit on small bottles for over 15 years. They refuse to be held responsible. The battle between proponents and opponents of deposits is deadlocked.

The Plastic Soup Surfer motion: 90% reduction

The stalemate had to be broken. This was achieved with the Plastic Soup Surfer motion that called on the government to take measures to reduce pollution from plastic bottles by 90% in 3 years.

We bypassed the deposit debate, but knew that the motion - once passed - would have to lead to the introduction of a deposit system. Otherwise, 90% reduction could never be achieved. That turned out to be the breakthrough.

Kitesurf North Sea crossing

Kiteboarding on board made from plastic bottles! Documentary.

In order to be able to present the motion to the Parliament, we wanted to collect 40,000 signatures. That is why we first had to get the problem of plastic bottle pollution as high on the agenda as possible.

In 2016 I kiteboarded across the North Sea on a board made from plastic littered bottles, a record attempt. This generated a lot of media attention and many signatures for the petition.

55.000 signatures - motion adopted

Members from the parliament sign the petition

At the beginning of 2017, we went to the parliament with 55,000 signatures for the petition with the motion. All major parties signed the petition. Two days later, the Plastic Soup Surfer motion was adopted by the governement. That was unique: never before a motion openly written by a citizen had been passed.
With this, the government indicated that it was taking steps to achieve a 90% reduction in litter from plastic bottles within 3 years.

1000 km supping down The Rhine

From Source to Sea - The Movie. Stand up paddling 1000km to fight plastic pollution (Part 1)

After the government's promise, I still had to involve the top of the main responsible companies in the discussion. To keep the subject high on the agenda, in 2017, I supped down the Rhine on a board made of plastic litter. This caused great media attention. 

We developed a plan to go to the directors of the main responsible companies with a bailiff and plastic bottles we collected along the way, and hold these directors formally accountable.

Bailiffs and 'Judicial notices'

Bailiff hands out a 'Judicial notice'

We succeeded in doing this with a legal novelty: the Judicial notice. With this notice, handed out by a bailiff, we formally made companies and their CEO's aware of the pollution, dangers and consequences of litter from 'their' packaging. From that moment on, companies cannot claim that they knew nothing about it. They are held responsible.

We went to the directors of 10 plastic polluting companies and had a bailiff hand out the judicial notice.

Disagreement between supermarkets and soft drink companies

Dutch program reports about our visit to Albert Heijn with the bailiff

In this way we entered into discussions with the directors of AH, Jumbo, Lidl, Aldi and Superunie (supermarkets) and Coca Cola, Pepsi, Spa, Heineken and Vrumona (soft drinks).

The soft drink companies turned out - unexpectedly - to be reasonably sympathetic to a deposit system, but the supermarkets held back.

Several radio and TV programs reported on the campaign and the disagreement behind the scenes.

Litter on the agenda

EU Vice President Frans Timmermans launches the Plastic Avengers Manifest

And so the topic of plastic pollution and the role of producers and supermarkets remained in the media's attention.

Other people and organisations supported the initiative and ensured that the subject stayed high on the agenda, especially Dirk Groot, the Plastic Avengers and the volunteers of GoClean, who, together with Recycling Netwerk Benelux, are the driving force behind the Statiegeld Alliantie (Deposit Alliance).

Finally a deposit!

The figures of litter in 2018 and 2019 showed that the business community was unable to reduce plastic litter. On the contrary, the waste increased. No surprise, of course.

So State Secretary Van Veldhoven drew the conclusion. On April 25, 2020, she decided to require a deposit on plastic bottles as of July 1, 2021. A historic victory over the corporate lobby.

And ... deposit on cans!

To further reduce the amount of litter, a deposit on cans was also required. At the beginning of 2021 it became clear again that this would not work without a deposit system.
On February 3, 2021, Van Veldhoven made her second decision: a deposit on cans from January 1, 2023.

Another historic breakthrough!

In action with 'Zwerfinator' Dirk Groot

Special thanks to ...

I would like to thank  Dirk Groot, de Plastic Avengers, GoClean, Natuur&Milieu, Recycling Netwerk, Stichting de Noordzee and the Plastic Soup Foundation for all their support and cooperation!

Without these people and organizations it would never have been possible!

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Forcing breakthroughs

Read more about our strategy of agenda setting, activating people, connecting and forcing breakthroughs.

FIGHTING PLASTIC SOUP AT THE SOURCE

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