The government disappoints on the deposit return scheme

4th April 2021

Many people have flocked to the countryside and beaches in the glorious March sunshine, with sadly some areas left strewn with plastic and other litter; which makes last week’s release of the second consultation on a deposit return scheme (DRS) all the more disappointing. The introduction of a comprehensive DRS has now been delayed till after the next General Election at the end of 2024.

Tom Fyans, CPRE’s campaigns and policy director, expressed his astonishment at this latest delay:

‘New research shows that around 8 billion drink containers are landfilled, littered or burnt every year.

‘Despite all this, the government looks set to delay a Deposit Return Scheme until the end of 2024 – essentially shirking their responsibility and waiting for a new government to show any leadership on the issue. It seems that in the face of industry lobbying, ministers would prefer to stick their heads in the sand rather than tackle the problem of waste head-on.’

‘The introduction of the new system should have formed an essential part of a green recovery, creating jobs in areas that need them.’

At present, local councils spend millions each year cleaning up and disposing of littered containers – money that a DRS could save them, easing their financial burden at a time when funds are tight.

Deposit return schemes of the kind already in operation in other countries see huge recycling rates; we know that a DRS can increase recycling rates of plastic, glass and metal drinks containers to more than 90%. CPRE surveys have shown that people across England are keen to see much more being done to tackle waste. Over three-quarters of the English public (78%) agreed that the government should be taking more action on litter.

Discarded drinks containers
Nick Fewings | Unsplash