Government to launch bottle deposit return scheme across the UK

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Deposit return scheme

Consumers across the country are soon to see the prices of plastic, glass and metal drinks containers go up as the government announces the launch of a deposit return scheme (DRS).

In an unprecedented bid to slash waste levels, the new scheme will apply to place a variable tax on top of all drinks in the form of a deposit.

Customers can then return the empty containers to retailers for a small cash sum.

Retailers will be responsible for recycling the returned containers and many could introduce “reverse vending machines” to streamline the process.

Earlier this year, Tesco became the latest retailer to pledge its support for proposed scheme, following both Iceland and the Co-op.

“We do support developing a cost-effective DRS and are currently working with a number of partners to scope a project to explore how this can operate in practice and at scale,” a Tesco spokesperson said.

This comes after a decade of campaigning to introduce the scheme, which is already in place across 38 countries.

The UK currently recycles just 43 per cent of its 13 billion plastic bottles every year.

Germany introduced this scheme in 2003 and currently recycles 99 per cent of their plastic bottles.

Despite campaign groups lauding the introduction as a positive step, the British Retail Consortium’s director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said in October that the scheme could undermine existing recycling initiatives.

“Whilst superficially appealing, the reality is deposit return vending will hit customers with an upfront charge, pushing up the cost of living to the tune of tens of millions of pounds at a time when household finances are under strain.

“Unlike many countries with an operational DRS, the UK already benefits from kerbside recycling collections.

“A DRS in the UK would therefore undermine this existing system, into which taxpayers have invested significant sums. It would also potentially cost retailers hundreds of millions of pounds in implementation costs.

However in response to Gove’s announcement this morning Opie added: “We’re pleased the Government has said any scheme will be based on evidence and any costs for consumers and retailers will be proportionate.

“It is important they co-ordinate work with the Scottish Government who are further ahead with their planning. The Government needs to be creative in its thinking, for example using municipal sites, not just shops in town centres to tackle littering.

“We also hope we can move on from single issues such as bottles to a more co-ordinated, comprehensive approach to tackling plastic packaging, starting with an effective producer responsibility scheme.”

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4 COMMENTS

  1. This will backfire completely. The main reason we have current levels of recycling in the UK is kerb-side collection provided by local councils. If people have to take their recycling to retail collection points many more people will find that difficult or won’t bother.
    The only way I can see that this would work is if councils’ kerb-side collections are able to measure what has been returned by each household, obtain the refund themselves from some sort of retail collaborative organisation and then take theses monies (minus an administration charge) from the householders council tax.
    That seems very unlikely, so I suspect we’ll see less being recycled in the future.

  2. I quite agree. I Re cycle up to 20 bottles a week via council kerb side collection. I get my shopping delivered as I have no car, this effectively is a tax on me as I can’t return to the shop for a refund so why should I bother using the kerb side re cycle I’ll just send it to landfill with the rest of non recycled.

  3. Why would you do that? The idea of this scheme is to cut down on pollution by offering an incentive to those who presently litter our beaches, motorways, towns and villages with cans, bottles and glass. If you are unable to return them yourself, wouldn’t it be better to recycle them as before not put them in household waste? I presume this will be possible. I remember as a child collecting bottles and receiving money from them from our local sho and then spending it. I think it’s a great step in the right direction.

  4. I am old enough to remember when pop bottled and beer bottles used to have a deposit scheme. I and other kids were happy to collect the refund.
    Of nowadays it would be too much trouble for a few pence.

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