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A deposit return system for England

A deposit return system for England

An unedited version of a letter published by The Times on Monday 26 March 2018. Two days later, the Government responded by announcing a desposit return system for all single use drinks containers. 


We write to you as Presidents, past and present, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and on behalf of over 50,000 members and supporters.

In 1946, our predecessor the Duke of Norfolk committed CPRE to tackling litter in the countryside, saying ‘we want the townsman to love rural England as he finds it, and not bespattered with bottles’. However, after decades of lobbying for an end to wasteful and polluting single-use bottles, the House of Lords’ 1981 rejection of a deposit return system entrenched a throwaway culture in the UK.

With bottle banks and kerbside collections failing to match the progress of deposit schemes elsewhere, CPRE’s Stop the Drop campaign re-opened the debate in 2008. Since then, our research has comprehensively shown that as well as reducing the litter that defaces both town and country, a deposit return system would create jobs, save public money and could double recycling rates to over 90%.  

The success of the bag charge has shown the public’s willingness to green their behaviour, and we’ve seen growing support for deposits from retailers and drinks companies. There is now a rare and urgent opportunity to introduce a policy that will be almost universally popular and hugely effective in improving our society and environment. The Scottish Government has already pledged action, and we urge the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to allow England to join the countries making a success of deposit return systems. The alternative is to allow the UK to become ‘the dirty man of Europe’ once more.

Without a mandatory system - in harmony with Scotland’s - that enables the collection of every bottle and can, the Government will continue to fail in its environmental duties. By making the right decision, Mr Gove can help create a virtuous circle where visible improvements to our natural environment encourage people to care for it even more. We believe decisive action now could deliver the lasting legacy of a countryside valued by all as England’s greatest national asset.

Emma Bridgewater
Andrew Motion
Max Hastings
Jonathan Dimbleby
David Puttnam

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