Deposit Return Scheme should be consistent across UK, committee argues


Publishing its contribution to the Government’s consultation on Deposit Return Schemes for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Environmental Audit Committee has called for Defra to introduce an interoperable scheme throughout the UK.

The Committee argues that it would be easier for consumers to understand and simpler for the drinks industry if the rules for deposit return schemes were consistent across the four nations of the UK.

In its submission, the Committee also recommended that cartons be included in the deposit return scheme, which is not currently within the Government’s scope.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Philip Dunne MP, commented: “Over recent years the environmental impact of single-use packaging has been brought into focus.

“Yet despite growing awareness, and increased rates of recycling, in 2019 Brits still wasted eight billion drinks containers.

“This is not just a major wasted resource but a huge source of litter, polluting our streets, roadsides, rivers and beaches.

“A deposit return scheme can increase current rates of recycling, incentivising people to get money back on their single-use containers.

“So it was disappointing that the Government delayed the introduction of a deposit return scheme to 2024, and it is critical that this consultation helps finalise design of the scheme so it is not delayed any more.

“It is absolutely right for producers to become responsible for the whole lifecycle of their packaging, but it must be fair across sectors.

“That is why the Government must ensure the scheme roll-out includes all materials and allows the Deposit Management Organisation to determine the fee structure across sectors.”

According to the Committee, there are strong environmental arguments in favour of collecting cartons, and there is existing capacity within the UK for cartons to be properly recycled and repurposed.

Failure to include cartons from the outset is reported to result in greater costs should the material be added at a later stage.

The Committee also heard evidence that including glass in the deposit return scheme could enhance recycling rates further, with 18% of wasted containers in the UK in 2019 being glass, despite good kerbside collection.

However, this is dependent on glass being compacted (rather than crushed) and ensuring safety and space concerns for small retailers are considered.

The Committee’s letter to Rebecca Pow regarding the deposit return scheme consultation can be found from the Parliament website.

The ‘Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland’-consultation accepts contributions until 4th of June.

More information about the consultation and how to take part is available on the government website.