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  • AntoineR

Going back to deposit schemes in the beverage sector to win the war against plastics

Circularity was once the norm in the beverage industry and we should definitely welcome it *again*.

Let's not forget that beverage bottles used to be re-used many many times in the past, before we lost our minds and ended the bottle deposit system for the current linear one-use bottle system... 🚮

Robert Friedel, from University of Maryland, goes back in time to recap the history of our beloved beverage containers in his paper "American Bottles: The Road to No Return" (

Back in the days, disposability was seen as an avenue to greater consumption and thus greater profits. In fact, the *true* cost of plastic bottles was not taken into consideration. Now, a few decades in this broken system, and after considering the negative environmental externalities of such industry, it is clear that the wrong path was followed.

(Note: More info on the carbon footprint of beverages packaging can be found in this report by The Carbon Trust)

We often see development and economic growth as a straight line pointing up to the sky. This simplification omits a fundamental component to life: when faced with multiple choices, picking one of the sub-optimal paths will happen more frequently than not when acting under imperfect information.

Embracing "Circularity" in our economic system ♻ also means looking back in time, admitting when something has gone wrong, and backtracking when necessary. These feedback loops 🔄 are paramount to progress and find a better path forward ➿

Historians are encyclopaedias of our mistakes and a great help to move forward in the right direction 📚

"A person who does not know the history of the last 3,000 years wanders in the darkness of ignorance, unable to make sense of the reality around him." - Goethe.


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