Deposit return scheme consultation confirmed

plastic bottle

A consultation for a deposit return scheme in England has been confirmed by the Government, with the aim of increasing recycling rates, and reducing the amount of waste pollution.  

According to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drink bottles annually, but more than 3 billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left as litter.  


To fight this, the Government has announced that it will introduce a deposit return scheme in England for single use drinks containers, which will be subject to consultation later this year. 

The consultation will examine the details of how this scheme would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates.  

Similar schemes are already in operation in Denmark, Sweden and Germany, and sees consumers pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany, which is then given back on the return of the empty drink container. 

This is often done through a ‘reverse vending machine’, where you insert your recyclable, and the machine returns your money.  

Once the bottle is returned, businesses are then responsible for making sure they are recycled correctly.  

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment – killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats. It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled. 

“We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”  

The consultation follows the call for evidence by HM Treasury on taxes and charges to reduce waste from single-use plastics and will take into account views from producers, suppliers and consumers to ensure the system works across the country. 

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