Deposit return scheme: 15-minute guide to consultation response

The government is running another consultation on the design of a deposit return system for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This consultation is hosted on a government site. We’ve produced a guide that will help you use the government’s survey to respond quickly and support a system design that will work best for everyone in the UK.

If you have fifteen minutes to call for the best deposit return system for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, please follow our guide below.

We think the following 13 questions on the government’s consultation site are the most important to get a strong response on. You can answer as many or as few as you like, so long as you fill in the personal details section before submitting your response. The whole consultation background paper is here (all 98 pages of it for the very keen!).

Some questions have text boxes. We’ve suggested some comments for these but we strongly recommend personalising this as it will strengthen your response.

Step 1

Open the consultation

You’ll need to have the consultation open in a new tab but keep this guidance open as well.

This link opens the consultation page in a new tab.

Step 2

Click on ‘Introduction’

Questions 1 to 5

Scroll down to fill in your personal details and choose your privacy preferences in questions 1 to 5.


Question 6

Given the context of the Covid-19 pandemic we are currently experiencing, do you support or oppose our proposals to implement a deposit return scheme for drinks containers in 2024?

Tick ‘Support’.

Suggested comments for text box:

There are many benefits of deposit return systems, and people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have already had to wait too long for it to start.

  • I support the implementation of a deposit return system by 2023, and it must be during this government’s session as it was in the Conservative Party manifesto.
  • I do not support delaying until 2024 because over 8 billion bottles and cans are wasted in the UK every year.
  • As the government says in this consultation, DRS will create up to 4000 new local, green jobs and a central admin centre could be located in an area of high unemployment anywhere in the country.
  • Since Covid, I have spent more time in my local outdoor spaces. DRS will help protect those places by reducing litter. DRS is a key part of recovery and ‘Building back better’.
  • We are living in a climate emergency and DRS is only a small part of the solution. If we have to wait so long for this, what hope do we have for the bigger changes we need to make?
  • People are fed up of sorting their recycling but having no guarantee it won’t be dumped in another country or burnt. DRS guarantees effective recycling and restores faith in recycling systems.

Question 7

Do you believe the introduction of a deposit return scheme will have an impact on your everyday life?

Tick ‘No, there will be no impact’.

Although we believe that Deposit Return will have a positive impact on people’s lives, this consultation has no positive option to tick.


Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the ‘Continue’ button.

Step 3

Click on ‘Chapter 1: Scope of the Deposit Return Scheme’

Question 10

Do you believe we have identified the correct pros and cons for the all-in and On-the-Go schemes described above?

Tick ‘No’.

We disagree with the entire concept of ‘on the go’ and believe they’ve misrepresented the pros and cons. You can see a list of them if you click on the blue arrow beside ‘Scope of a deposit return scheme’ on the consultation. Here’s some of our key points you may want to reiterate in the text box below question 10:

Suggested comments for text box:

  • ‘On-the-go’ is a made up concept that doesn’t exist. It’s not possible to tell where someone will open a drink, and all sorts of drinks are currently littered and cause environmental and safety problems.
  • On the go is meaningless to me – I use all different sizes of bottles and cans in and out of the home. I just want all sizes in.
  • Deposit systems separate materials, which is more efficient for recycling, and it makes no sense to spend time and money setting up such a great system and then limit what’s included.
  • What would happen to all the bottles and cans that aren’t included in on the go? Will they just continue to be burnt and thrown into the sea?
  • There’s a risk that producers will change the size of bottles and cans that they sell if only certain sizes are included in the system, as they have done in other countries.
  • It makes no sense to exclude multipacks, and would create a risk of producers wrapping just two cans or bottles in plastic as a way to avoid being part of the system

Question 11

Do you foresee any issues if the final scope of a deposit return scheme in England and Northern Ireland does not match the all-in decision taken in Wales? E.g. an On-the-Go scheme in England and an all-in scheme in Wales.

Tick ‘Yes’.

Suggested comments for text box:

The only viable option is to have an ‘all-in’ system that’s consistent across all four nations. I need to be able to buy and return a drink anywhere in the UK.


Question 12

Having read the rationale for either an all-in or On-the-Go scheme, which do you consider to be the best option for our deposit return scheme?

Tick ‘All-in’.

Suggested comments for text box:

The consultation guide states that the government is ‘neutral’ about the fact that ‘all-in’ would ‘provide a higher net benefit, leading to higher levels of recycling, increased litter reduction and greater carbon savings’.

How can the government not want a £5.8 billion per year boost to the economy and environment, or support a system that does more to tackle the climate emergency? Defra’s own information makes it clear that the only viable option is ‘all-in’.


Question 14

Do you agree with our proposed definition of an On-the-Go scheme (restricting the drinks containers in-scope to less than 750ml in size and excluding multipack containers)?

Tick ‘No’.

Suggested comments for text box:

It’s impossible to define which drinks will be consumed at home, and which will be consumed ‘on the go’. I buy different sizes of drinks for all kinds of places and situations.

In the UK bottles and cans are littered every single day. I can see for myself, just by walking around, that this includes all sizes of bottles and cans made from all materials including glass, metal and plastic.

The fact that multi-packs are excluded, despite most of these containing smaller containers, shows this is a made-up definition.


Question 17

Do you agree that the scope of a deposit return scheme should be based on container material rather than product?

Tick ‘Yes’.


Scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘Continue’.

Step 4

Click on ‘Chapter 4: Financial Flows’

Question 36

What should be the minimum deposit level set in legislation?

Tick ‘20p’.

This is the amount that Scotand’s deposit return system will use.


Scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘Continue’.

Step 5

Click on ‘Chapter 5: Return Points’

Question 40

Do you agree that all retailers selling in-scope drinks containers should be obligated to host a return point, whether it is an all-in or on-the-go (OTG) deposit return scheme?

Tick ‘Yes’.

Please provide evidence to support your response.

I want to be able to return all my empties to the same place, no matter what size they are. It’ll be much easier if I can take them back to any place where I can buy drinks.


Question 41

Given the proposed extensive distribution and availability of return points for consumers to return bottles to, do you think customers would be likely to experience delays / inconveniences in returning drinks containers?

Tick ‘No’.

Suggested comments for text box:

I’ll be happy to use a system that is so great for the environment and the best way to make it convenient is to have as many return points as possible and include everything so it’s straightforward to understand.


Question 42

Do you have a preference, based on the 3 options described, on what the schemes approach to online takeback obligations should be?

Tick ‘Option 1′.

It’s important for accessibility that online retailers are obliged to accept returns.


Scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘Continue’.

Step 6

Click on ‘Chapter 9: Implementation Timeline’

Question 75

Do you have any comments on the delivery timeline for the deposit return scheme? Please pose any views on implementation steps missing from the above?

Suggested comments for text box:

Over 8 billion bottles and cans are wasted every year in the UK so there is no justification for delaying the start of the deposit return system again. Following the pandemic and the subsequent increase in litter, it’s needed even more urgently than before. A deposit return system is a core part of a green and fair recovery from the pandemic.


Question 76

How long does the Deposit Management Organisation need from appointment to the scheme going live, taking into account the time required to set up the necessary infrastructure?

Tick ‘12 months’.


Scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘Continue’.

Step 7

Submit your consultation

Scroll to the bottom of the main consultation page and then click ‘Finish’.

Thanks for taking the time to have your say. It really will make a difference.

This guide has been put together by CPRE and our partners Greenpeace, Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, and Wildlife and Countryside Link.