Deposit return scheme proposed in England to fight plastic waste

22p bottle tax

Almost three quarters of British consumers (74%) would be likely to return plastic bottles and aluminium cans under a Deposit Return Scheme if they had to pay a deposit of just 10 pence on each one, according to the results of a national poll by YouGov revealed today.

Suez has called for a deposit return scheme which only targets plastic bottles and aluminium cans that are smaller than 700ml, such as soft drinks cans and bottles of water bought to be drunk on the go.

The report, entitled How a Deposit Return Scheme for "on the go" could be designed for the United Kingdom, was compiled by specialist circular-economy consultancy, Oakdene Hollins, and models SUEZ's views on a DRS scheme using both industry data and examples of existing schemes in Europe, the USA, Australia and Canada.

The government announcement comes after the Blue Planet II series highlighted the threat of ocean pollution and showed footage of wildlife eating plastic.

A tax of up to 22p could be added to plastic bottles to prevent the tide of rubbish flowing into the oceans, under plans announced by Michael Gove on Wednesday.

'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'.

"We need to see a change in attitudes and behaviour".

"I am thrilled that we will finally see the many benefits a deposit scheme will bring to England, not least the absence of ugly drinks containers in our attractive countryside".

United Kingdom consumers use an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or end up as litter in towns, the countryside and the seas, officials said.

Some parts of the United Kingdom have already been considering a deposit scheme.

Executive Manager of Belgian non-profit plastic recycling thinktank Plarebel and European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisations (EPRO) board member Ann Vossen told European Plastic Product Manufacturer that she is reluctant to champion deposit schemes as an incentive for recycling, as it "distorts value".

The announcement has been welcomed by environmental campaigners, but industry may be anxious about the price tag.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Breakfast programme, Barry Turner, Plastics and Flexible Packaging Group Director at the British Plastics Federation, said there should be no risk of undermining the country's kerbside schemes "in any way", which could have "adverse affects".

Councils will also be anxious to ensure that kerbside collecting is not undercut when details are confirmed.

Samantha Harding, litter programme director for the Campaign to Protect Rural England's (CPRE) described the introduction of a DPR scheme in the United Kingdom as a "brilliant and significant decision".

Experts believe a deposit scheme could boost Britain's collection rates for plastic bottles from 60 per cent to more than 85 per cent, and reduce littering from bottles and cans by at least 70 per cent. "With a mandatory return system for all bottles and cans, we'll soon have a world leading system that will banish garish littered drinks containers to history". The drinks industry has installed machines in shops that take in used bottles and cans and give back a coupon to return the deposit.

He said it was vital to act, pointing to two reports last week.

Holly Maltby from 38 Degrees says: "This is an fantastic result after huge pressure from the public urging the government to take bold steps to reduce plastic pollution".

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