Green light for bottle deposit scheme

A deposit return scheme for single-use bottles is to be introduced in England subject to consultation, UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed.

The scheme would see shoppers in England paying a deposit when buying products, such as water or fizzy pop, in single-use plastic, glass and metal containers. The scheme aims to increase recycling rates and cut the amount of waste being thrown away and polluting the environment.

UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute our streets, countryside and marine environment. Speaking about the scheme, Gove said:

“We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment – killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats. It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.”

Similar schemes already operate in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany, which see consumers pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany, which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container. Possible variants of a deposit return scheme include cash rewards for returning drinks containers without an upfront deposit.

A consultation to be held later this year will examine the details of how such a scheme would work in England.