BRIEF REVIEW OF MEASURES WHICH CAN BE CONSIDERED, ALONE OR IN COMBINATION, TO IMPLEMENT THE RECOMMENDATION
(Extract from the Environment Committee's Report)
1. Ban on Non-Refillable Containers
A ban on non-refillable containers constitutes one of the most simple policy options open to governments. Obviously, such a measure would remove non-refillable containers from the market and decrease in due course the environmental costs associated with beverage container use. It would not, however, guarantee that containers are returned. Moreover, the simplicity of this approach, while favourable for administrative reasons, also creates rigidity which is likely to incur large dislocation costs throughout the industry if a significant portion of sales are already in non-refillable containers.
2. Mandatory Deposits on Beverage Containers
This policy requires that all containers carry a refundable deposit. In effect this will discourage the use of non-refillable containers because the deposit will discriminate against the convenience characteristics of the previously disposable container.
The special advantage of this policy is that the "litterbug", responsible for a major external cost, will forfeit his deposit and directly bear the costs of his actions. This policy is likely to have a marked impact on the relative market shares of the various container systems and hence on solid waste. A further advantage over a ban is that this policy is more flexible, and that it will allow recycling of containers and the possibility of introducing new container types.
This policy will incur dislocation impacts which might be less severe than those of a ban.
3. High Tax on All Beverage Containers
This policy is designed to internalise the external costs of beverage container use. The tax would be paid on the purchase of a new container. The effects on the policy would then be brought about through normal economic market mechanisms. The tax would increase the relative price differential between new and used containers, a distinct advantage to the refillable container. This would generate an increase in demand by producers and bottlers for returned containers. The flexibility of this policy makes it very attractive as the tax may gradually be phased in over a period of time reducing the dislocation impacts that may be incurred.
4. Product Charges on Packaging
Product charges deal with a much wider perspective than just beverage containers, that is charges would cover all packaging products. This should prove an extremely effective method of internalising the external costs associated with solid waste disposal and should generate considerable increases in the levels of recycling.
5. Low Rate Litter Tax on Beverage Containers
Where earmarking of funds is permissible, a low rate litter tax policy may be adopted. Although this policy is unlikely to have any effect upon the relative market shares of the various container systems it would provide finance to fund litter clean-ups and educational campaigns. This policy will have no impact upon municipal solid waste generation.
6. Standardization of Containers
Standardization is likely to increase the efficiency and feasibility of refillable container systems, since it would act favourably on the willingness of retailers to supply refillable containers and would de-crease the inconveniences suffered by consumers when returning containers. This measure would also ease the purchase of empty containers at their resource value, without using a deposit system. Standardization would, however, limit the introduction of new container types.
Recycling of the materials of which the containers are made would reduce adverse environmental impacts, especially solid waste, of beverage containers. Since this policy does not entail any direct government intervention in the beverage market, it would not cause major economic dislocations in the beverage industry. It is, however, unlikely to be sufficient by itself to tackle the full extent of the other external costs, and would have no effect upon litter or the relative market share of the refillable container.
8. Encouragement to Technical Developments
Research and technical development may result in beverage container systems or materials more compatible with the concerns of environmental protection. The encouragement to research would be a useful weapon, even if its effects are only indirect and at longer term.