Our Green Clean litter pick: the results

17th October 2019

As the government gets closer to bringing in a deposit return scheme, we use the evidence gathered from our nationwide Green Clean litter pick to push for the most effective ‘all-in’ scheme.

This week the government published the Environment Bill, which includes the powers to create the deposit return scheme that we’ve spent more than 10 years campaigning for.

The scheme requires people to pay a small deposit on the drinks containers they buy, which is repaid when they return containers to machines in shops and supermarkets.

Deposit return schemes have been proven to increase recycling and reduce litter in countries across the world, so it’s great that the government has agreed to introduce one in England.

But there’s still more work to do. The bill doesn’t specify what kinds of containers will be included or when the scheme will be introduced. That’s why we’re keeping pressure on the government to continue with its ambition for all drinks containers – no matter the size or material – to be included in the scheme.

Our deputy chief executive Tom Fyans said: ‘To boost recycling rates for all drinks containers – cans, glass and plastic bottles, cartons and pouches – the only option is for the government to introduce an all-in scheme.’

The evidence for an all-in scheme is mounting, thanks to the great work of volunteers taking part in our nationwide Green Clean litter pick, who counted all the different kinds of drinks containers they found.

Key stats from our Green Clean litter pick include:

  • A quarter (23%) of glass bottles collected were over the 750ml size limit, the current upper limit for the ‘on the go’ DRS being pushed by key industries.
  • More than one quarter (28%) of plastic bottles found littering the countryside were larger than the common 500ml bottle size and could be excluded from the scheme being pushed by key industry stakeholders.
  • A total of 10,000 drinks containers were collected during the month-long litter pick, including cans, plastic bottles of all sizes and glass bottles.

This important evidence shows how much more effective England’s deposit return scheme could be if it includes all kinds of drinks containers, rather than having its scope limited to only some containers.

Tom Fyans said: ‘As the Secretary of State for the Environment announced the publication of the Environment Bill earlier this week, it was encouraging to hear her recognise the benefits of the DRS in England being the same as the DRS being introduced in Scotland, which will be all-in. This provides further hope that the government is listening as we make the case for an ambitious approach to tackling the problem of litter.’

Volunteers taking part in CPRE's Green Clean
Volunteers taking part in CPRE's Green Clean