George Young

Senior Media Relations Officer

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28 March 2018

The Government’s decision to trial a deposit return scheme in England for all drinks containers – whether plastic, glass or metal – is a crucial decision in the fight to curb single-use plastic waste.

The new scheme will function by providing a small cash sum to consumers when they return their plastic bottles and cans, with a yet to be confirmed fee structure based on the type of drinks container being returned. It’s planned that “reverse use vending machines” will be automated to make the process as easy as possible for consumers.

Retailers themselves will be responsible for recycling the bottles and cans properly. Similar deposit return schemes (DRS) have been implemented throughout Europe, with impressive results.

Germany introduced a DRS as far back as 2003, and by 2015 data showed that nearly 98% of bottles were being recycled. In Norway, a similar scheme has resulted in equally impressive recycling statistics.

The new DRS for England, revealed yesterday by Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove, is subject to a consultation to be held later this year. At this stage, it isn’t certain that all retailers of single-use drinks containers will be legally obliged to join the scheme.

Rhodri Davies, Head of Policy at Charities Aid Foundation comments:

“It’s good news that the Government will trial a deposit scheme for all single-use drinks containers, building on the success of the plastic bag levy, which has cut plastic use and raised millions for good causes.

“Recent YouGov research commissioned by CAF demonstrated that 91% of British people believe we throw away too much as a society. 48% of those asked also believed that funds raised from any plastic bottle deposit scheme or latte levy should go to charity. It would seem that as a society we are willing to make changes in order to conserve our environment and this is an important step forward in the right direction.

“It remains to be seen how money raised by the scheme will be used. The success of the 5p plastic bag levy introduced in October 2015, with funds raised going to support charitable causes, sets a strong precedent and we would like the Government to look at how funds collected from a deposit return scheme could be distributed to good causes. We will keenly watch how the scheme develops in the coming months, and hope that one day it proves as successful as the plastic bag levy.”

Notes to editors

1.    In January 2018 CAF research found that 91% of people agree that we throw away too much as a society. With regard to proposed latte levies and plastic bottle deposit schemes, 48% of those asked believe that any funds raised should go to charity, whilst 26% preferred funds raised to be used by the Government.

2.    The Charities Aid Foundation has distributed nearly a quarter (23%) of all funds raised from the plastic bag levy so far, working with household name retailers to deliver community initiatives across Britain.


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