Jane Bickerstaffe, director of INCPEN – The Industry Council for Research on Packaging & the Environment – has said that container deposit schemes both undermine recycling and fail to prevent litter.
It’s a topic that generated a great deal of debate, and having written on the subject at the end of last year in the CIWM Journal in her role as spokesperson for the Packaging Recycling Group Scotland, Jane Bickerstaffe said: “We want to play our part, but we can’t do it alone. We want to work with others to make Scotland a visionary leader… we just don’t think a deposit return scheme (DRS) is the right approach”.
Now, in a comment submitted by INCPEN, it says: “Everyone agrees litter and littering is bad but it is still an issue. The solution is for everyone – individuals, industry, campaign groups, local and central governments – to join forces to prevent all litter. Any piece of litter spoils the environment and makes it look uncared for.
“There is no point in clearing up just some of it because litter breeds litter. That’s why initiatives like bottle deposits return schemes (DRS) don’t work. They target just one type and leave the rest to attract more. Like the broken window syndrome, even one piece of any sort of litter can encourage people to add to it.
“Manufacturers and retailers work to reduce the environmental impact of their products and packaging, including investing in anti-litter interventions and supporting anti-litter campaigners.
“There is no evidence from anywhere in the world that deposits systems prevent litter. Even in Sweden which has a deposit system, irresponsible people still litter containers.
“Worse than that, deposit systems undermine recycling. The UK has invested heavily in kerbside recycling. Let’s continue to strengthen and build on it, not divert the most valuable materials to a parallel system that would require more lorries on the road, increase emissions and carbon and be costly and inconvenient for consumers.
“We can learn from other countries. When Germany introduced a DRS in 2003 its recycling rate dropped and over ten years later has still not recovered to the same level. Let’s not make the same mistake.”
Jane Bickerstaffe herself added: “We live in a beautiful country, let’s keep it that way. It’s great that so many people volunteer to clean up litter but it would not be necessary if we all take responsibility for putting all the things we no longer want – whether it’s a till receipt, bottle, medical waste, apple core or fishing net – in a bin.”