Call for cartons to be added to the deposit return scheme

Across the UK, consumers go through an estimated 14 billion plastic drinks bottles, nine billion drinks can and five billion glass bottles annually, official figures reveal.

Last year, the Government unveiled its ambition for the UK to be a ‘world leader in resource efficiency’. This would require increasing recycling rates as currently, according to a report from the waste and recycling company Willshee’s, when data from the countries that make up the United Kingdom is combined the UK is only the 16th best recycler globally behind the likes of Germany, Singapore and South Korea (although looked at alone, Wales sits in second place).

In a bid to increase recycling rates and support circular models for beverage packaging, the Government plans to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS). This would be a small charge added to the price of drinks, with the money refunded when the bottle or can is recycled. Similar schemes are already in operation in 40 regions worldwide, where it has been shown DRS achieve high rates of separate collection at around 90%.

An ‘all-in’ vision for DRS?

Having recently closed its consultation on what a UK-wide DRS could look like in practice, legislators are preparing to reveal their vision. This, it transpires, could potentially see the DRS extended beyond bottles and can include items like juice and milk cartons.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Environment Minister Jo Churchill said she would ‘not rule out’ this broader approach to DRS. The Minister was responding to a question from Conservative MP Steve Baker, whose constituency is home to carton maker Tetra Pak and who suggested the DRS should go the ‘extra step’ to include additional beverage packaging.

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