UK government announces plans for deposit return scheme in England / System would cover single-use bottles and cans
The bottle deposit scheme will apply to single-use PET bottles in England (Photo: iStock/dalton00)
UK drinks companies and the country’s plastics industry have given a cautious welcome to news that the UK government plans to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks bottles and cans (see of 23.10.2017). The aim is to help cut the number of used containers being dumped in the environment.

The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra, London / UK; said the scheme, which environmental groups have been advocating for a number of years, would eventually be introduced in England for single-use drinks containers – plastic, glass or metal – subject to a consultation process later this year. Defra said the consultation would examine how such a scheme would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates.

Responding to the news, some commentators said much would depend on the practicalities of any scheme, with some arguing the costs would be considerable, and inevitably passed on to the consumer. But Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association (London;, which counts the majority of the UK’s soft drinks manufacturers as members, said his organisation “welcomed the opportunity to consider how a well-designed deposit return scheme could help to increase recycling rates, and we are ready to work with government and others on this.”

The British Plastics Federation (BPF, London; said it is already working closely alongside brands, retailers and NGOs to tackle the issue of plastics waste. “The UK has a fairly encouraging record on recycling plastic drink bottles, which currently sits at 74%. Now is the time for collaborative action to improve this figure across the whole country,” it said in a statement. It added that it is also important to include aluminium cans and glass bottles in any DRS “because plastic bottles account for only 2% of litter and 20% of littered beverage packaging.”

But others warned of trouble ahead. Jonathan Davison, a consumer analyst at research firm GlobalData (London; said putting a deposit on all packs “could create chaos on our high streets, as grocery retailers may become involved in collecting and moving billions of used packs each year.” Davison said the focus needed to be on single-use “on-the-go” packs rather than “take home” formats like multipack cans.

Elsewhere in the UK, Wales and Scotland, which have their own government assemblies, have already announced plans for a DRS – see of 18.09.2017. Defra said 13 bn plastic drinks bottles are consumed in the UK every year, and 3 bn end up in landfill, being burned or simply thrown away.

A number of European countries including Denmark, Germany and Sweden have had deposit schemes in place for several years. According to a study commissioned by Petcore Europe (Brussels / Belgium;, the average recycling rate for PET in Western Europe is 56%, amounting to 1.7m t – see of 04.01.2018.
05.04.2018 1001 [239421-0]
Published on 05.04.2018

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