Environment secretary Michael Gove outlined his personal support for an ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) today (July 16), which would cover drinks containers of all sizes and materials including aluminium cans, glass and plastic bottles, and paper cartons.
Mr Gove said that introducing a more comprehensive DRS would give people the strongest financial and social incentives to recycle their drinks containers.
In his speech, Gove said: ‘The government’s waste reduction partner, WRAP, has persuasively argued that the deeper that deposit return schemes drill into the value chain – extending to cover full life cycle costs under producer responsibility, and an “all-in” standard – the clearer the financial and social signal will be to recycle.
‘We need to work with business to make deposit return schemes as effective as possible and I believe an “all-in” model will give consumers the greatest possible incentive to recycle.’
Gove’s announcement comes after the UK government launched a consultation on a deposit return scheme last year, while Scotland has already announced its plans to introduce a deposit-return system for glass, plastic and aluminium drinks containers.
Recent impact assessments undertaken by the government found that an ‘all-in’ DRS would offer substantial financial benefits over a system that merely covers ‘on-the-go’ drinks containers, which would collect a smaller fraction of bottles produced.
Defra’s research found that a comprehensive DRS would save the Treasury, local councils and taxpayers up to £2bn over ten years, compared to £250m with the ‘on-the-go’ option.
These savings would come from a reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill, lower clean-up costs for litter, reduced air and water pollution, and fewer carbon emissions caused by the materials used to produce the containers.
Maddy Haughton-Boakes, litter campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), welcomed Mr Gove’s backing for a comprehensive DRS.
‘As well as boosting recycling rates to more than 90%, a deposit return system will ensure that the polluter pays,’ she said.
‘This means that those who produce the packaging, or those who fail to recycle the packaging, rightly foot the bill for clearing it up,’ Haughton-Boakes said.
‘This will relieve cash-strapped local councils and us as taxpayers from this huge financial burden. We look forward to seeing these warm words turned into a formal commitment from the government.’
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