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CPRE is pleased to hear that the 5p charge for plastic bags in all major retailers, which has seen huge success since it was introduced in 2015, will now be extended to all small shops.

Prime Minister Theresa May is set to make the announcement tomorrow, when delivering the Government's 25-year Environment Plan, in which she seeks to tackle Britain’s ‘throwaway culture’ and wage war on single use plastics.

Currently all retailers with fewer than 250 employees are exempted from charging customers for single-use plastic bags. However, its introduction within larger shops and supermarkets has resulted in a decline in use of over 80%. The success and positive impact of the charge has put pressure on the Government to extend it to all shops, a hugely positive result for the countryside and our environment.

Samantha Harding, Litter Programme Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said:

“I’m delighted that England’s very successful bag charge has been extended to small retailers. The 5p charge has been embraced by shoppers, so this extension is common sense and very welcome news.

“Economic incentives, however small, are so effective. With the Government taking such decisive action against bags and microbeads, Theresa May and Michael Gove can now use this approach to tackle other issues, such as drinks containers. We know that a small deposit on a can or bottle will significantly increase recycling rates, as well as relieve local councils of some of the financial burden of having to deal with so much packaging waste. We can’t keep wasting such valuable materials like plastic, glass and aluminium”

Deposit return systems are proven to work in many countries worldwide, increasing recycling rates by up to 90%. As the Government seems serious about tackling the issue of plastic pollution, this is the obvious next step.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is delighted by the recommendation from the Environmental Audit Committee that the UK Government should introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles, to help increase recycling and curb the devastation caused by plastic waste.

The recommendation comes from the Committee’s new report, ‘Plastic Bottles: Turning Back the Plastic Tide’, following a comprehensive inquiry into drinks container packaging.

CPRE, which submitted both written and oral evidence to the Committee during the consultation period, recognises the depth and scope of this inquiry. For more than a decade, CPRE has supported the introduction of a DRS for aluminium cans, glass and plastic bottles as a solution to litter and boosting recycling rates. The potential for DRS to change people’s behaviour for the better, through the use of a small financial incentive, has already been proven in many countries, including Norway, Canada and Australia.

As people increasingly drink more soft drinks and water on-the-go, the UK urgently needs a system to capture these bottles before they are littered or end up in landfill. The committee is calling on the UK Government to introduce a DRS for plastic drinks bottles with the aim of boosting the recycling rate to 90%.

Samantha Harding, Litter Programme Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

“This is a significant and unequivocal recommendation by the cross-party EAC – that the analysis of the evidence it has received has shown England needs a DRS to save us from the plastic choking our countryside and coasts. Its commitment to a well-designed system is also very welcome, recommending we draw on the strongest examples from around the world to give England the very best DRS. With billions of drinks containers put on the market every year, we should be doing all that we can to capture those valuable materials.”

Another critical recommendation from the Committee is that packaging producers should be made financially responsible for the plastic packaging they produce. Currently, packaging producers only pay for 10% of the cost of packaging disposal and recycling, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for the remaining 90%. The Environmental Audit Committee urges the Government to adopt a fee structure that rewards producers who design recyclable packaging and increase charges on packaging that is difficult to recycle.

Further recommendations from the Committee include a requirement for all public premises that serve food and drink to provide free drinking water, as well as to increase the number of public water fountains to reduce the number of plastic bottles consumed. It will be crucial to ensure that this initiative focuses on providing water to refill existing containers, rather than inadvertently relying on disposable plastic cups.

Iceland and the Co-op have become the first supermarkets to publicly back a UK-wide deposit return system (DRS) for drinks containers as a way to tackle plastic pollution in the countryside and oceans.

The announcement follows a survey of major UK supermarkets and their views on the introduction of a DRS in the UK, and a national campaign for a DRS by many environmental groups, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)

Reacting to the announcement, Samantha Harding, CPRE’s litter programme director, says:

‘Iceland and the Co-op should be commended for their commercial and environmental leadership in supporting a UK deposit return system. Their commitment shows that retailers of any size can play their part in ridding our countryside and oceans of unnecessary waste.’

CPRE has long called for a deposit return system for drinks containers including plastic bottles and cans. Deposit return has been shown to boost recycling rates significantly in countries such as Norway, Canada and Australia.

CPRE’s research has shown that DRS is a simple system for consumers to use, with many benefits including savings for local councils of £35 million a year

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