A 20-strong cross-party group of MPs will today (13 August) call on the Prime Minister to back an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers.
The MPs, from all four nations of the UK, say a comprehensive system could tackle Britain’s ‘endemic’ waste problem.
The Government is set to introduce a DRS covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2023. The scheme will see shoppers pay a deposit on drinks containers that can be redeemed when the container is returned.
Some 20 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion calling for all materials to be included – plastic and glass bottles, aluminium cans, cartons, pouches and coffee cups.
Whitehall has a once-in-a-generation chance to go all out to go all in. The Government cannot afford to mess this up.
The motion was backed by Liberal Democrat leadership contender Layla Moran, Conservative MP Scott Benton, and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas.
Labour MPs joining the calls include Claudia Webbe, Mohammad Yasin, Rosie Cooper, Mick Whitley, and Grahame Morris.
In Wales the motion was signed by Plaid Cymru MPs Ben Lake and Hywel Williams and independent Jonathan Edwards.
In Northern Ireland MPs Colum Eastwood, Jim Shannon and Claire Hanna joined the calls.
SNP MPs Chris Stephens and Allan Dorans also backed the move.
Britain’s litter problem
A 2019 Marine Conservation Society survey recorded more than 500 litter items per 100 meters of coastline, with containers of all materials and sizes found on Britain’s beaches.
Last month, a Populus poll showed some 84% of the UK public believes all drinks containers should be included in the Government’s proposed scheme.
Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society, commenting on the ‘all-in scheme, saying: “No matter if it is a coffee cup, glass bottle or PET bottle, when rubbish gets into our environment it kills our planet.
Naturally some drinks manufacturers want their containers excluded from the scheme. But this is short-sighted in the extreme
“Naturally some drinks manufacturers want their containers excluded from the scheme. But this is short-sighted in the extreme.
“Only an all-in system can protect our natural world for generations to come. MPs are right to highlight this.”
Surfers Against Sewage Chief Executive Hugo Tagholm said: “In 2017, more than 300,000 people signed our petition demanding a well-designed deposit return scheme to tackle pollution.
“Whitehall has a once-in-a-generation chance to go all out to go all in. The Government cannot afford to mess this up.”
The Scottish Parliament recently voted in favour of an ‘all-in’ DRS for Scotland, meaning that Scotland will soon be the first part of the UK to introduce a DRS for drinks containers.
It will be available across all of Scotland from 1 July 2022, and will set out to make it easier for everyone to recycle their used bottles and cans – including all drinks sold in PET plastic, metal and glass, no matter the size of the container.
Under the proposed regulations, a flat deposit fee of 20p will be applied to all sizes of container. This has gathered some criticism, with the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) saying the ‘all-in’ system could see customers charged an additional £4.80 upfront for a 24-can multipack, while only 80 pence for the same volume of drink packed in four large plastic bottles.
It says, in this scenario, independent research suggests two thirds of consumers would be likely to opt for larger plastic alternatives, resulting in what it calls the “unnecessary production” of c.82 million additional plastic bottles.
In this scenario [an all-in system], independent research suggests two thirds of consumers would be likely to opt for larger plastic alternatives, resulting in what it calls the “unnecessary production” of c.82 million additional plastic bottles.
Zero Waste Scotland a key consideration in deciding to go ahead with an ‘all-in’ system was ‘simplicity’. Being brand new to a large proportion of the Scottish population, it says it has to be ‘simple to be successful’.
“A single deposit level of 20p for all included drinks is straightforward. It’s also consistent with the results of the public consultation,” said Jill Farrell, director of customer engagement and communications at Zero Waste Scotland, said in an opinion editorial written for Circular Online.
He said: “Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme will mean even more aluminium is recycled. We estimate there will be an additional 9,000 tonnes of steel and aluminium recycled each year. That additional recycling will in turn reduce Scotland’s emissions by more than 75,000 tonnes each year.”
Robert Fell, CEO and Director, Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association, says ‘we need a scheme based on the volume of the product being sold’ in a counter opinion editorial.
He says imposing a flat deposit rate “immediately creates two market inequalities: firstly, the deposit cost per litre of product will vary vastly depending on the pack size; and secondly multipacks and single serve containers will be penalised over the far larger multi serve plastic bottles.”