New RECOUP research explores consumer behaviour towards a deposit return scheme


Plastics recycling charity, RECOUP, has undertaken consumer insight research to understand a range of considerations for a Deposit Return Scheme in the UK. 

The charity found convenience as the key factor for the consumer, with 56% of consumers either stating that they wouldn’t travel or travel more than a mile to return their empty containers for recycling and get the deposit back.  


Only 14% said that they would travel more than three miles.  

Many linked getting their deposit back to where they do their main food shopping, making the convenience of returning drinks containers fit with daily activities.  

According to RECOUP, a UK wide deposit infrastructure would mean widespread and varied collection points that could include strategic “away from home” and high footfall locations such as work, transport hubs, on-the-go and places that sell drinks.  

Of the 56% of consumers who wouldn’t travel more than a mile, 36% said they would only travel less than a mile, and 20% said they would not travel at all.  

From this, RECOUP said it provides an indication that kerbside schemes would continue to be used as the main collection scheme for beverage containers by some people.  

RECOUP DRS development working group co-ordinator Steve Morgan said: “This research points to convenience being a common and important theme for consumers. Deposit Return Schemes will have a major role to play to enable consumers to understand the value of their used drinks containers, but a well-designed scheme can only be an effective mechanism to transform collections if it is part of a wider recycling collection infrastructure, including kerbside, bring, HWRC and ‘Away from Home’ collection points.” 

Other findings include: 

  • The distance consumers would travel could be influenced by the price of the deposit – almost 60% said that 10p is a sufficient deposit to incentivise them to return their containers. Only 20% thought a deposit of 30p of more would be needed 
  • 84% of consumers reported that they are trying to place containers for recycling, with 55% stating that they recycle the drinks containers in their home with recycling and 29% recycling away from home as well as at home 
  • Plastic drinks bottles were the most bought drinks containers when purchasing drinks at home or on-the-go – 71% bought plastic bottles, while 50% of people purchased cans and 36% bought drinks in glass bottles.

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