Government to introduce deposit return scheme in England

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
The deposit return scheme will be subject to consultation later this year

Defra has announced it will introduce a deposit return scheme for single use drinks containers in England.

The scheme will be subject to consultation later this year which will look at details of how a scheme would work alongside other measures to increase recycling rates.

Consumers will be expected to pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany, which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container.

In Germany, the network of reverse vending machines has led to a 97% recycling rate.

The scheme is expected to cover single use glass, plastic bottles and steel and aluminium cans.

Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment. It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.

“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 consultation will follow the recent call for evidence on taxes and charges to reduce waste from single-use plastics, so that all relevant findings can be fed into the proposals.

It will take into account views of producers, suppliers and consumers to make sure they system works across the country.

Defra also said it plans to talk to the devolved nations about the scope for working together.

James Piper, managing director at Ecosurety, raised concerns over England’s recycling capabilities.

He said: “We welcome in principle any initiative aimed at improving Uk recycling, however the real question is whether the UK has the correct infrastructure, i.e capacity inside its recycling plants, to deal with the increase in glass, plastic and steel and aluminium cans.

“We don’t want to see a situation whereby millions more tonnes of plastic are collected but sit dormant in warehouses, or worse, because there is nowhere inside the UK to recycle them.”


A Voluntary & Economics Incentives Working Group report, also published today, made a series of suggestions for a DRS in England.

These included the development of a DRS for the UK or GB rather than just England, and more attention given to how to capture material outside the home.

The report found some evidence a well-designed and well-run deposit return scheme could increase recycling rates of beverage containers by 20% and lead to less contamination.

However, looking at evidence from other DRS models, some collection and recycling rates were similar to the UK, with differing opinions on how much we can be interpreted from international models.

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