For years, aluminum has been one of the few profitable portions of the recycling market. Because using returned aluminum is far less expensive than beginning with mining it, the deposit paid at the seller for each aluminum can is often recovered either thru normal recycling or thru collection of discarded cans by those who can profit. So, although the original consumer rarely takes their aluminum cans back directly to where the items were sold,, an amazing percentage of aluminum cans do get recycled.
The UK has set up a trial system similar to the aluminum can deposit scheme, but for plastic water bottles. Unlike aluminum, the amount paid to the returning party for each water bottle appears to grossly exceed its economic value. If the societal costs of handling plastic waste is taken into account, I doubt it’s still a good economic decision, but is undoubtedly an environmentally friendly one. It’ll be fascinating to see what happens.