A lot can be learnt from history, but it appears that few people look back and learn from the past, be it recent or very distant, or even from their neighbouring countries. (That includes Europe.)

I was pleasantly surprised about the hysteria grabbing the UK about a pilot scheme to return plastic bottles to machines in supermarkets and receive vouchers or cash discounts in return. The idea is that people in England will soon have to pay a deposit when they buy drinks bottles and cans in a bid to boost recycling and cut waste. The deposit will increase prices - but consumers will get the money back if they return the container. The scheme is expected to cover single-use glass and plastic bottles, and steel and aluminium cans. Full details are subject to consultation and yet to be decided, including how big the deposit will be. But costs in similar schemes elsewhere range from 22p in Germany and 8p in Sweden.

Wow! I remember when I was in the States some 40 years ago and heading to the local Walmart with my Mexican uncle Joe to hand over all our empty cans, and any others we could collect, and receive some small change, my pocket money, in return. Everybody was doing it, it was common practice and prior to that my mother remembers doing the same with empty jam jars in the UK. If we had carried on, we wouldn’t be in the once comfortable and convenient plastic mess we are.