A Scandinavian deposit-based system for recycling bottles could be adopted in the UK, the BBC reports.
Advisers to government say the schemes have massively reduced plastic litter in the environment and seas.
And a ministerial delegation has been to Norway to see if the UK should copy an industry-led scheme that recycles 97% of bottles.
In the UK, figures show that only around half of all plastic bottles get recycled.
Norway claims to offer the most cost-efficient way of tackling plastic litter.
The Norwegian government decided the best method would be to put a tax on every bottle that’s not recycled – then leave the operating details of the scheme up to business.
It works like this: The consumer pays a deposit on every bottle – the equivalent of 10p to 25p depending on size.
They return it empty and post it into a machine which reads the barcode and produces a coupon for the deposit.
If the careless consumer has left liquid in the bottle, the machine eats it anyway – but hands the deposit to the shopkeeper who’ll need to empty the bottle.
Similar schemes are in operation in other Nordic nations, Germany, and some states in the US and Canada.
The managers of the Norway operation say it could easily be applied to the UK.
In Norway, the deposit-return machine accepts only two types of plastic bottle, with approved labels and even approved glue to fix the labels.
This allows the labels to be stripped easily, and simplifies recycling.
In the UK, roadside collection of plastic bottles in Britain are bedevilled by contamination from rogue rubbish being put in the recycling container.
Kjell Olav Maldum, chief executive of Infinitum which runs the Norway bottle scheme, told BBC News: “There are other recycling schemes, but we believe ours is the most cost-efficient.
“We think it could be copied in the UK – or anywhere.
“Our principle is that if drinks firms can get bottles to shops to sell their products, they can also collect those same bottles.”