Government unveils vision for national deposit return scheme
The Government will aim to crack down on plastic pollution with a deposit return scheme in England for single-use drinks containers.
Businesses and consumers will be consulted on the details of how such a scheme would work alongside other measures to increase recycling rates.
The announcement was today (28 March) confirmed by Defra Secretary Michael Gove, who said the Government was committed to prevent plastics from “wreaking havoc” on the natural environment.
“It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled,” Gove said.
“We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”
The deposit on drinks bottles and cans will increases prices – but consumers will get the money back if they return the container. The announcement follows a similar move from the Scottish Government last year. Return schemes are in place in countries such as Demark, Sweden and Germany, where recycling rates are above 90%.
A deposit return scheme sees see consumers pay an up-front deposit between 8-22p when they buy a drinking, which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container. Other models include cash rewards for returning drinks containers without an upfront deposit. This is often achieved through a network of ‘reverse vending machines’, where plastic or glass bottles are inserted into a machine which returns the money.
Businesses will be responsible for ensuring a bottle is effectively recycled once a bottle is returned. Most of the major retailers including Aldi, Co-op, Tesco and Iceland have already given their backing to such a scheme.
The announcement was met with initial positive reaction from the green community, although many claimed it will still have to need to work with other policies.
The Environmental Services Association’s (ESA’s) executive director Jacob Hayler said that improvements would need to be made to UK’s recycling infrastructure.
He said: “Any new deposit return scheme will need to be considered in the context of the upcoming Resources & Waste Strategy to ensure a package of measures that helps the UK achieve its stated aim of becoming a world leader in resource productivity, while also tackling littering.
“The biggest priority for the recycling industry remains greater support for end markets for recycled materials. There is no point recovering all this material if there is nowhere for it to go, and particular consideration is needed for material left to be collected at the kerbside if a deposit return scheme system is introduced.”