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Call for Evidence on Deposit Return Scheme

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has launched a call for evidence on how a reward and return scheme for plastic, metal and glass drinks containers could improve recycling rates.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference last week, Gove said action was needed to protect marine life from plastic waste, and he appealed for views on how a deposit system might work in England. The call for evidence is open for four weeks. and all submissions will then be reviewed by the government’s working group.

In making the announcement, Gove said we must tackle the rise in plastic bottles entering our waters by making it simpler and easier to recycle and dispose of them appropriately. He added that the call for evidence will help us understand how reward and return schemes for plastic bottles and other drinks containers could work in England.

Organisations and individuals have been asked to share their views with the government on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of return schemes for various drinks containers. The announcement follows moves by the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who made a commit last month to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks bottles in Scotland.

Whilst the news has been welcomed by many wildlife and environmental campaigners, Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said the introduction of such a scheme will impact on customers: “It’s disappointing to see the UK Government commit to bringing in a deposit return system for drinks bottles and containers. 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.

He went on to say: “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.”

The consultation document can be viewed online.

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