Plastic bottle deposit scheme giving refunds for recycling them won’t kick in until end of 2025

Plastic bottle deposit scheme that will give 20p refunds for recycling them won’t kick in until end of 2025

  • Ministers plan to apply a refundable fee to containers like plastic bottles 
  • It is hoped this will prevent product waste and the release of greenhouse gases

A bottle deposit scheme to encourage recycling and tackle litter risks being mired in red tape and confusion.

Ministers today unveiled the initiative to apply a refundable fee – likely to start at 20p – to more than 20billion plastic bottles and aluminium and steel drinks containers every year.

It is claimed recycling will increase from around 70 per cent to 90 per cent if it matches the success of similar schemes in Europe, particularly Germany and Scandinavia.

That would hoover up many of the 4billion plastic bottles and 2.7billion cans that end up in landfill or are burned, releasing highly polluting greenhouse gases.

Ministers plan to apply a refundable fee to containers like plastic bottles (file image)

Ministers plan to apply a refundable fee to containers like plastic bottles (file image)

Ministers claim it will reduce the amount of bottles and can litter by up to 85 per cent, cleaning up streets, parks and beaches.

However, a row has erupted over the scope of the scheme and the length of time it has taken to be introduced. Westminster said it will not go live in England, Wales and Northern Ireland before October 2025.

Controversy surrounds the decision not to include glass bottles in England and Northern Ireland. This means it will be different to the system in Scotland, which comes into effect later this year, and Wales. The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which speaks for most supermarkets, had argued that including glass would push up costs for its members and create safety concerns.

Today the BRC still rejected the scheme as complex and demanded coherence across the UK.

Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister stressed the importance of helping to 'stop damaging plastics polluting our green spaces or floating in our oceans and rivers' (file image)

Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister stressed the importance of helping to ‘stop damaging plastics polluting our green spaces or floating in our oceans and rivers’ (file image)

Drinks manufacturers, such as Coca-Cola, have long warned that having different schemes will add to the cost, complexity, red tape and confusion for the public.

When announcing the scheme, environment minister Rebecca Pow said: ‘We want to support people who want to do the right thing to help stop damaging plastics polluting our green spaces or floating in our oceans and rivers.

‘That is why we are moving ahead using our powers from our landmark Environment Act to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for drinks containers. This will provide a simple and effective system.’

Controversially, Ms Pow even suggested the scheme could help the poor and homeless. She suggested that some struggling people will try to make money by collecting bottles and cans from bins.

A public consultation found 83 per cent of Britons support the idea.

Megan Randles, of Greenpeace, accused the Government of ‘bottling it’ after five years of ‘dithering’.

‘It reeks of corporate lobbying – from the kind of companies who talk big on social responsibility, but do everything they can to push the problems they create on to others,’ she said.

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