MPs outline support for ‘all-in’ deposit return system

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)

The20 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion calling plastics, glass bottles, aluminium cans, cartons, paper-based coffee cups and pouches to all be eligible for the UK’s deposit return system rollout

MPs to have supported the motion include Liberal Democrat leadership contender Layla Moran, Conservative MP Scott Benton, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Labour MPs Claudia Webbe, Mohammad Yasin, Rosie Cooper, Mick Whitley, and Grahame Morris. Ministers from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland also issued support.

The UK Government announced plans in February 2019 to drastically modify waste management systems through a consultation. A key aspect of the consultation was the introduction of a consistent set of materials collected across England from households for recycling and a “world-leading” tax on plastic packaging, as outlined in the Resources and Waste Strategy the previous year. A follow-up consultation has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is expected to commence in 2021.

One of the key aspects to improve resource efficiency is a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and containers, which has contributed to more than 90% recycling rates of those items in other European nations.

The government is exploring two variants of the system, which will operate for cans and plastic and glass bottles. An “all-in” model would focus on all beverages placed on the market, irrespective of size, while the second, “on-the-go” model would restrict drinks containers that could operate in the system to less than 750ml and sold in a single format.

Support of the “all-in” system is built on research from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which found that an all-in system would generate £2bn over a 10-year period. In comparison, an “on-the-go” system that collected less would generate £250m.

The analysis was conducted using Defra’s own impact assessments and estimates suggest that recycling of drinks bottles and containers would be boosted to above 90%; in the UK, approximately 2.75 billion cartons are placed onto the market, with 40% collected and sent for recycling. 

More recently, a Populus poll has shown that 84% of the UK public now want all drinks containers included in the deposit return scheme – up from 69% from last year.

Commenting on the Early Day Motion, Surfers Against Sewage chief executive Hugo Tagholm said: “In 2017 more than 300,000 people signed our petition demanding a well-designed deposit return scheme to tackle pollution.  

“Whitehall has a once-in-a-generation chance to go all out to go all in. The Government cannot afford to mess this up.” 

Matt Mace

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