‘Getting plastic bottles and aluminium cans off the ground is a real step forward, but I believe that excluding glass at this time is a tragically missed opportunity.’
ALLISON OGDEN-NEWTON OBE
Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive
Focus on plastics
Every year UK consumers go through an estimated around 14 billion plastic drinks bottles and nine billion drinks cans, many of which are littered or condemned to landfill.
The new scheme, covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland, is set to be introduced in 2025, following work with industry to prepare for the necessary changes – including setting up infrastructure and amending labelling.
The plans, set out in a consultation response announced by Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, should make recycling plastic bottles and drink cans easier for tens of millions of people.
The goal is to ensure 85% fewer drinks containers are discarded as litter after three years of the scheme’s launch.
‘We want to support people who want to do the right thing to help stop damaging plastics polluting our green spaces or floating in our oceans and rivers.
‘That is why we are moving ahead using our powers from our landmark Environment Act to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers.
‘This will provide a simple and effective system across the country that helps people reduce litter and recycle more easily, even when on the move.’
Tackling plastic pollution
International examples show that a deposit return scheme can become a simple part of daily life to make recycling easier, with recycling rates above 90% in Germany, Finland and Norway.
Current recycling rates for drinks containers in the UK sit at around 70%.
These plans build on efforts to eliminate avoidable plastic waste. Last week the UK government announced that a ban on single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drinks containers, including cups, will be introduced in England from October 2023.
The UK government has already introduced a ban on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products, restrictions on the supply of single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds and the Plastic Packaging Tax introduced last year.
Through the Environment Act, the UK government is bringing in further measures to tackle plastic pollution and litter, including an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme through which packaging producers will be expected to cover the cost of recycling and disposing of their packaging.
Plans for Consistent Recycling Collections for every household and business in England should also ensure more plastic is recycled.