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Public supports Michael Gove’s call for deposits on drinks cans and bottles

26 July 2019

Survey results show 72% of people support the introduction of a UK-wide deposit return system

Almost three-quarters (72%) of people would support a deposit return system for plastic and glass drinks bottles and aluminium cans being rolled out across the whole of the UK, according to a new survey published today (27 July) by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) [1].

The survey results, demonstrating high levels of public support, have been published following an announcement made last week by the former Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, in which he gave his backing to an ‘all-in’ deposit return system that includes all drinks containers of all materials and sizes [2]. In his speech, Mr Gove said that he believed ‘an “all-in” model will give consumers the greatest possible incentive to recycle’.

CPRE welcomed the announcement made by Mr Gove [3] and states that these survey results are a clear indication that the public will support the scheme, once introduced.

The countryside charity is eager to see the new Environment Secretary, Theresa Villiers, build on the work of her predecessor and turn these warm words into a formal commitment from the government to introduce a deposit return system that would put a stop to the environmental damage caused by drinks containers.

Maddy Haughton-Boakes, Litter Campaigner at CPRE, said:

‘It’s absolutely fantastic that so many people have shown such high levels of support for the scheme before it’s even been introduced. A deposit return system will transform the way we deal with waste, boost recycling and, as a result, finally put a stop to the harm that drinks containers are causing our countryside, environment and wildlife.

‘With Michael Gove having thrown his weight behind a truly “all-in” deposit return system, and with the Scottish government’s decision to introduce one earlier this year, this latest wave of public support is surely all the evidence needed for the government to get this over the line.

‘We urge the Theresa Villiers to hit the ground running in her new role as Environment Secretary. She must make a swift and formal commitment to introduce the most effective system in the world – one that includes every single drinks bottle, can, carton or pouch of every size and material – and not give in to attempts to water down the system for vested corporate interests.’

Countries that already have effective deposit return systems in place, such as Norway, achieve recycling rates for this type of waste as high as 95%. Whereas in the UK, overall recycling has plateaued at around 45% [4].

The Scottish government has already committed to introduce a deposit system for glass, plastic, steel and aluminium drinks containers of all sizes [5]. One-third of people (33%) surveyed believe that the UK-wide system should be just as comprehensive as the one committed to in Scotland, and 39% of people believe that the UK-wide system should include more materials, such as drinks cartons and pouches [6].

Earlier this month, CPRE reported that an ‘all-in’ deposit return system could generate £2 billion for the economy over ten years, as detailed in the government’s own impact assessment [7]. This economic boost would come from a reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill, fewer littered drinks containers and less of their associated cleanup costs, reduced air and water pollution, and less carbon emissions caused by the extraction and production of raw materials needed to produce new drinks containers.


Notes to Editor:

1. The polling was carried out by YouGov, on behalf of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, between 9 -11 June 2019. The survey was conducted online with a sample size of 3,386 adults in the UK. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

The Scottish Government recently confirmed plans to introduce a deposit return scheme in Scotland. This scheme would mean customers pay a 20p deposit when buying a drinks container, which they would receive back when the container is returned to a retail outlet.

In principle to what extent would you support or oppose a scheme of this kind in
the UK as a whole?


Strongly support


Tend to support




Neither support nor oppose


Tend to oppose


Strongly oppose




Don't know



2. Wildlife and Countryside Link: Michael Gove asks: If not now, when?

3. Michael Gove backs an ‘all in’ deposit return system

4. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra): UK Statistics on Waste 2019

5. CPRE reaction to Scottish deposit return system


The Scottish deposit return scheme will cover drink containers made of glass, PET plastic and aluminium. If a similar scheme was introduced in the UK as a whole, which of the following would be your preference:


The scheme would be the same as the Scottish system


The scheme would include more materials (such as tetra Pak cartons)


The scheme would include fewer materials (such as excluding glass)


N/A - I would not support a similar scheme at all


Don't know



7. £2 billion boost to the economy from ‘all-in’ deposit return system


The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) fights for a better future for the English countryside. We work locally and nationally to protect, shape and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside for everyone to value and enjoy. Our members are united in their love for England’s landscapes and rural communities, and stand up for the countryside, so it can continue to sustain, enchant and inspire future generations. Founded in 1926, President: Emma Bridgewater, Patron: Her Majesty The Queen.

Please call our Media Relations Lead, Phil Richards, on 020 7981 2819 for further information

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