The case for a DRSEthical Food & Drink News & Features
A new report reveals that local authorities across England could save up to £35 million every year by introducing a deposit refund system (DRS) for drinks containers.
Analysis of data across eight local authorities, including those with high and low recycling rates, found that rather than losing income, the individual authorities could potentially make savings of between £60,000 and £500,000.
‘There is no doubt that introducing a deposit refund system would reduce littering in this country but, until now, there has been a concern that it would have a negative impact on cash-strapped councils. This report shows that in fact a DRS would create savings for local government.’
Chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy
Fears of lost income
Some local authorities have expressed concerns that the introduction of a DRS would lead to a reduced income, as people wouldn’t need to use the local authorities’ kerbside recycling systems as much.
In response to these concerns, a consortium comprising Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Reloop, together with Melissa and Stephen Murdoch, commissioned Eunomia Research and Consulting to look into the issue.
‘Deposit refund schemes are a tried-and-tested way of dramatically increasing recycling rates while reducing plastic bottle and other container pollution on our beaches, in our streets and across the countryside. This report now clearly shows that introducing a DRS for England would also benefit local economies and communities, saving councils money that could be redirected to vital frontline services. All the evidence points to the unrivalled benefits of introducing DRS for England as soon as possible. Good for the environment, people and the economy.’
CEO of Surfers Against Sewage
Savings would outweigh lost revenue
Every day 35 million plastic bottles and 20 million aluminium cans are sold across the UK and many end up as litter, in our oceans or in landfill sites.
Evidence from other countries, including the US, Norway and Germany, shows that the introduction of a simple deposit on plastic bottles and cans can raise collection rates above 90% and reduce littering.
The report finds that local authorities would lose some income as there would be a reduced number of cans and plastic bottles in the kerbside collections to sell to recyclers.
However, the savings made from having fewer containers to collect and sort, as well as reduced levels of littering and reduced landfill charges, would actually create savings that outweigh the loss of revenue.
’No valid arguments’ against a DRS
With local authority resources under increasing pressure, these findings provide evidence that, rather than negatively affecting local authority waste services, a DRS could actually support them and reduce the costs of delivering the service.
At the same time it would help to deliver cleaner streets and reduce the amount of plastic entering our oceans.
‘There are no longer any valid arguments that DRS doesn’t work and the environmental case is crystal clear. For our coasts and countryside, the cost of not taking action will be far greater than any incurred by the parts of industry that are trying to block this. Michael Gove can now build on the success of the Government’s bag charge and the ban on microbeads by confirming England will have a deposit system.’
Litter Programme Director at Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)