New report finds a deposit refund system could save local authorities £35 million each year


A new report by Keep Britain Tidy has found that local authorities across England could save up to £35 million annually if a deposit refund system (DRS) for drink containers was implemented across the country.    

Local authorities have shown concerns that this introduction would lead to a decrease in their income, as people use the scheme to recycle their bottles and cans rather than local authority kerbside schemes. 


In response to these claims, organisations including Keep Britain Tidy, alongside the Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Reloop, appointed researchers to explore this issue. 

Examination of data from eight local authorities, including those with high and low recycling rates, discovered that rather than losing income, each authority could potentially make saving of between £60,000 and £500,000. 

The report has found that local authorities would lose some income, as there would be a decreased number of cans and plastic bottles in the kerbside collections to sell on to recyclers. 

Savings made from having fewer containers to collect and sort, and reduced levels of littering and landfill chargers will produce savings that exceed the loss of revenue.  

Up to 35 million plastic bottles and 20 million aluminium cans are sold across the UK every day and many end up as litter in our oceans or landfill sites. 

Data from other countries, including the US, Norway and Germany, illustrates that the introduction of a DRS on plastic bottles and cans can raise collection rates above 90% and decrease littering. 

The report makes suggestions for Government and local authorities on how kerbside systems can be changed to ensure that the savings from a DRS are shared equally between county councils and district councils. 

Local authority resources are under pressure and this report provides evidence that instead of negatively affecting local waste services, a DRS could support them. 

A DRS could also reduce the price of providing the waste service, while delivering clean streets and decreasing the quantity of plastic entering our oceans.     

Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “There is no doubt that introducing a deposit refund system would reduce littering in this country but, until now, there has been a concern that it would have a negative impact on cash-strapped councils. This report shows that in fact a DRS would create savings for local government.”