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A deposit return system for England – what’s next?

Image: Nik Stanbridge/Flickr Image: Nik Stanbridge/Flickr

What a day! After 10 years of dogged campaigning from CPRE, alongside tireless campaigners from Surfers Against Sewage, the Marine Conservation Society and Greenpeace, we heard Michael Gove announce yesterday that England will be getting a deposit return system for bottles and cans. It really is a game-changing announcement in the fight against litter and pollution in our countryside and oceans.

As I watched the Secretary of State make the formal announcement of the scheme at the Natural History Museum, I was filled with gratitude for all the campaigners and CPRE supporters that have helped make this a reality. So thank you for your support.

Next steps

After the excitement of this campaign win, it’s now time to focus on getting the right system in place. The Secretary of State’s announcement is an important commitment, but it’s just the first step. The scheme will now go through a consultation process, which may give those who don’t want to see a positive deposit system the chance to derail it.

There are lots of vested interests who will want this to have minimum impact on their business, whereas we will focus on making sure this has the highest possible impact on litter reduction and increased recycling.

The best system, and the one which will give us the greatest reduction in litter and greatest increase in high-quality recycling, is one that covers drinks containers of all materials – glass, plastic and metal. I was delighted to hear Michael Gove restate his commitment to this in his formal announcement.

The system should also make sure that all new products are automatically included in the scheme.

Scotland has been way ahead of England on deposit return systems, and is already in the process of designing a scheme. It’s really important that the UK Government works closely with Scotland to make sure that the two systems work together, and that Wales and Northern Ireland get involved too, so that the whole of the UK can benefit.

We’ll need the system to be mandatory to achieve the large-scale behaviour change that we need to really tackle the problem of litter in our countryside. A voluntary system that drinks manufacturers could decide not to sign up to would be setting the scheme up to fail. 

And we’ll need as many return points as possible – from the biggest supermarkets to your local corner shop – so it’s as convenient as possible to reclaim your deposit.

You only have to take one look at our grass verges and country paths to know that litter in our countryside is a massive problem. With a deposit return system that’s designed well, I’m confident we’ll see a huge reduction in this unsightly and toxic pollution.


After the excitement of this campaign win, it’s now time to focus on getting the right system in place

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