Cheating ourselves out of millions

By not returning bottles and cans to recycling centres, Danes around the country are cheating themselves out of millions each year

Every time someone throws an empty soda can into the garbage instead of returning it to a recycling station, the deposit paid on the bottle goes directly into the pockets of Dansk Retursystem, which has exclusive rights to run the return system across the country.

It may only be a few kroner per bottle, but it adds up. Last year's total reached DKK 61.5 million and is expected to reach a similar figure by the end of 2006.

People who drink beer or soda from a can are among those who cheat themselves out of their deposit most often, according to Trine W. Larsen from Dansk Retursystem.

'Traditionally beer cans have been something people crushed and threw in the trash because the beer was bought in Germany without a deposit. People just haven't gotten used to returning cans,' said Larsen to public service broadcast DR.

Swedes who take advantage of cheap beer in Denmark also contribute to the millions in surplus deposits. They take the beer to Sweden with them and do not make the trip back with empty bottles.

Alco-pops are also a big money maker for Dansk Retursystem. The pre-mixed spirit drinks are popular among younger drinkers, but returning the bottles is not.

How surplus deposits are used, however, is regulated. The deposit arrangements stipulate that profits must be used for technical improvements of the deposit system, for public awareness campaigns and non-profit purposes.

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