Tackling pollution

MPs on deposit return scheme: only variable deposit charge will tackle waste crisis

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 18 February 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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A group of cross-party MPs has today (18 February) called on the government to introduce a drinks return scheme with a variable deposit. 

Under a deposit return scheme consumers pay a deposit when purchasing drinks containers which they redeem when they return it to a collection point.  

A variable deposit will see consumers pay a value that varies according to the size and material of the drinks container.

The UK Government is set to introduce a deposit return scheme covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

Following Nordic lead

An Early Day Motion signed by 19 MPs urged the government to introduce a deposit return model which mirrors those used by Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.  

Nordic countries benefit from recycling rates of higher than 90%, and MPs believe this model will be key to tackling Britain’s waste crisis. 

Conservative Tracey Crouch MP, former Secretary of State for the Environment Hilary Benn MP and former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP all signed the Early Day Motion.

‘A deposit return scheme represents a seismic moment in tackling Britain’s waste crisis, but it will only do so if we get it right.
   
‘It’s crucial for the programme to be as comprehensive as possible, with a variable-fee which reflects the differing sizes and materials used in drinks containers.

‘Nordic countries have paved the way forward and enjoy some of the highest recycling rates in the world, giving Britain a roadmap to follow to ensure its own scheme has the impact needed.’

NEIL GARRICK-MAIDMENT
environmental campaigner

Buy bigger bottles?

Concerned by more than two million pieces of litter being dropped in the UK every day, the MPs recognise a deposit return scheme is crucial to combating pollution. 

The calls follow a landmark poll revealed last June which found four in five Britons believe the scheme should have a variable deposit.

Campaigners backed the MPs’ calls and warned a flat deposit fee could make it more economical for consumers to switch from small containers to large two-litre plastic bottles.  

They argue a flat deposit represents a substantial percentage increase on the price of small drinks servings in small glass bottles and aluminium cans compared with larger servings in two-litre plastic bottles.

For larger containers the increase is less significant. A flat deposit fee thus risks incentivising consumers to purchase two-litre plastic bottles.  

They believe implementing a variable scheme is the most effective model for reducing waste.

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