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Use your mobile device to return plastic bags

Plastic bags are a major environmental problem. In order to reduce littering, it is now possible to reclaim the deposit on your plastic bag using a mobile phone app.

According to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish retail sector purchased plastic bags for a total of SEK 832 million during 2017, for consumers to carry home their goods. Once used, these plastic bags often find their way into our natural environment, not least the oceans, causing a major environmental problem. One possible solution to this problem may be a newly-developed service called PantaPåsen. The intention is to encourage us to be better at recycling plastic.

“By setting a value in kronor on plastic bags, consumers have a further reason to recycle, instead of discarding bags in household waste or, even worse, in nature,” explains PantaPåsen, the company behind the system, in a press release.

Looking for financing

RISE. together with PantaPåsen, is now looking for financing to start a project to develop a deposit-return system for plastic bags, as well as other types of packaging.

"We believe that this is a brilliant idea and we would be more than happy to participate by taking a holistic approach to developing the concept,” says Kristina Wickholm, project manager at RISE. Kristina tells us that one component of the planned project will be an interview-based consumer survey.

“We want to find out how consumers see the service, what kinds of packaging end up in household waste and how consumers would react to a deposit-return system for other products; so that we know how we should proceed with this work,” she explains, and continues:

“We also have other visions for future initiatives. For example, it would be interesting to look at the possibility of developing an app that can read whether or not a given type of plastic can be returned. This will make it easier for us to improve the sorting of various types of plastic.”

Built on existing behavior

PantaPåsen was the first company in the world to introduce a deposit-return system for plastic bags and recently launched an app aimed at simplifying the return process. Suwar Mert, founder and CEO of PantaPåsen, and an MSc in engineering, is the man behind the idea.

“Littering is an enormous problem and I decided to find a solution to it. The solution came to me while standing at the bottle and can return machine in my local supermarket, wondering why I couldn’t return the bags the cans were in. That’s the way it is,” says Suwar Mert. He explains that it actually isn’t a matter of creating entirely new consumer behavior.

"Many people are already in the habit of returning their bottles and cans; it is simply a matter of allowing this habitual behaviour to spill over into other types of product.”

Gives insight in what packaging we want to return

Suwar Mert believes that the project RISE is currently attempting to launch will add considerable value in developing the concept with PantaPåsen.

"The project will provide us with input from several areas of the process, as well as contributing to our understanding of which packaging consumers would like to return going forward,” explains Suwar Mert.

How to return your plastic bag

You can return your plastic bag and reclaim your deposit by first downloading the PantaPåsen app onto your mobile device and then returning your plastic bags to the recycling station of your choice and scanning them. Once you have done so, simply place the bags into the container for plastic packaging.

As things stand, it is possible to return plastic bags to one of the three Stockholm pharmacies that are affiliated to the system. The hope is that in the future the number of stores involved will increase and that other packaging, such as soap bottles and milk cartons, will also be returnable.