Defra's announcement of the introduction of a deposit return scheme for all single use containers has received mixed responses, with retailers raising concerns about the cost of the scheme and its operation. Defra intends to consult further on the details of the scheme (the amount of deposit payable and what happens in the event that consumers do not claim this back). It is anticipated that the scheme will cover glass, metal and plastic single use drink containers – drawing on similar schemes in other countries across the world.
Talking about costs – according to this article from BBC News, the German system required an upfront investment of £600m with around £700m for annual maintenance. The deposit payable by consumers is in that instance 22p. The numbers quoted by the British Plastics Federation are higher – around £1bn for the initial set-up and a similar amount for the annual maintenance of the system. This is a significant investment and yet, if the uptake of the scheme is going to be similar to the one in Norway (which boasts a 94% recycling rate of bottles made just from PET), it will make a significant difference in waste reduction and recycling.
Look out for Defra's consultation paper and do take some time to take part as this will shape the form of any final scheme.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said there was no doubt that plastic was "wreaking havoc" on the marine environment and discarded plastic bottles and cans "end up dumped on pavements and lobbed into rivers, lakes and the sea". "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," he said. "We need to see a change in attitudes and behaviour. And the evidence shows that reward and return schemes are a powerful agent of change