New deposit return announcement: cause for celebration

27th March 2018

We’re celebrating the government’s announcement of plans for a deposit return scheme.

The government has listened to our long campaign for a nationwide deposit return scheme (DRS) for plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans – and has announced it’ll introduce one!

It’s a watershed moment for recycling in the UK, given that similar systems around the world produce extremely high results. A DRS here will help boost recycling rates and combat litter in our countryside.

The long-awaited decision came following a call for evidence in October 2017, which investigated how plastic, metal and glass drinks container litter could be reduced and their recycling increased. We’ve campaigned for the introduction of a DRS for 10 years, and so of course are absolutely delighted by the announcement. Pressure from environmental organisations, the media and the public has increased, with more action demanded against waste polluting our natural environments. Single use plastic waste is a huge contributor to this, and a DRS would reduce this.

Bill Bryson, author and our former president, said: ‘I wholeheartedly congratulate Michael Gove for his wisdom in finally accepting the case for a deposit return scheme in the UK – I never thought I would see this in my lifetime. Future generations will look back on this decision as a piece of supremely enlightened policymaking, and one that raises the prospect of the world’s most beautiful country becoming free from drinks container litter at last. My most profound gratitude goes to the tireless campaigners and heroic litter pickers of CPRE who, for the past decade, have kept the issue alive in the minds of our politicians, press and public.’

Our current CPRE president, Emma Bridgewater, also celebrated the news, saying: ‘This landmark announcement is the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for. CPRE have been campaigning for the introduction of a DRS for almost 10 years – it has been a long battle, but this significant victory is an enormous leap forward in the war against waste.

‘Our countryside, oceans and wildlife have long since been the victim of our obsession with single-use bottles and cans, with the UK producing billions of them year after year. Many end up damaging our natural environments and killing our wildlife – and is also a shocking waste of valuable materials. The proven success of DRS in other countries means that now most of these bottles and cans will be captured and recycled – we congratulate the government on their decision.’

Deposit return schemes are already successfully operating in 38 countries around the world, producing average recycle rates for collected materials of 90% – reaching as high as 95% in Norway. The concept is simple – consumers will pay a small deposit on top of the cost of any drink that they buy. This is then returned to the customer when the container is returned to a retailer.

We’ll keep campaigning on this subject, to make sure that the UK gets the best possible DRS available. Want to be a part of it? Explore ways you can get involved.

A CPRE volunteer adds up what litter items have been collected during a CPRE Green Clean event
A CPRE volunteer adds up what litter items have been collected during a CPRE Green Clean event – items that would be much more frequently recycled under a DRS