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Schoolchildren urge Michael Gove to back an ‘all-in’ deposit return system

27 February 2019

Schoolchildren urge Michael Gove to back an ‘all-in’ deposit return system David Parry/PA

A group of schoolchildren from Damers First School in Dorset have today met environment secretary Michael Gove to urge him to introduce an ‘all-in’ deposit return system that covers all drinks cans, bottles and cartons.

In a meeting organised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the children questioned Michael Gove on his plans for tackling litter, and presented him with their ‘golden rules’ for how the system should operate.

This comes as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last week launched a new consultation on two design options for what the system will include and how it will operate.

Damers First School have a number of green initiatives that the children have helped to set up, including becoming a ‘plastic-free school’ and introducing Learning Gardens and Classrooms. The children are also leading the charge in creating an eco-school and an eco-community in Poundbury, Dorset.

Maddy Haughton-Boakes, litter campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said:

‘The brilliant children from Damers First School understand so clearly the threats to our amazing natural world. They’re passionate about the solutions – not least making sure we have the best recycling systems, such as a world-leading deposit system for drinks cans, bottles and cartons.

‘They’ve met Michael Gove today to tell him their golden rules for the best ‘all-in’ deposit system. And now he has a golden opportunity to do the right thing and make sure England, and the children from Damers, have a litter-free future.’

Environment secretary Michael Gove said:

‘It’s great to see the young people at Damers First School are being inspired during the government’s Year of Green Action, and we welcome the efforts of CPRE to tackle litter and plastic waste.

‘Consulting on a deposit return scheme is a part of our landmark Resources and Waste Strategy, to help leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it for future generations.’

Catherine Smith, headteacher at Damers First School said:

‘Working alongside CPRE has been an invaluable experience for our children, in terms of their being able to effect change at both local and national level.

‘Our children have strong views and a passion to make our world an even more beautiful place. As part of this campaign they have inspired other schools, including our local senior school to become actively involved in CPRE’s Green Clean.

‘'We have seen children inspired to spend their spare time helping to look after our local countryside and they are becoming increasingly aware of the power that every individual has to make a difference, one step at a time.

‘We are delighted to have been invited to Westminster as this provides the children with an ideal opportunity to see democracy in action, within a cause that they truly understand and feel passionate about.’

CPRE has been campaigning for a deposit return system, where a small deposit would be applied on any drinks container, which is then refunded when it is returned for recycling, for more than 10 years.

In March 2018, the government promised to ‘introduce a deposit return scheme in England for single use drinks containers, subject to consultation.’ However, CPRE believe that there are many within the drinks, retail and packaging industries attempting to dilute the system and limit the type and size of containers that will be included.

CPRE are clear that most effective deposit system will collect cans, bottles and cartons of all sizes and materials. CPRE’s ‘Green Clean’ litter picks from last year, which collected over 10,000 bottles and cans, demonstrated that every type and size container is littered. 

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