Economy

United Kingdom to introduce deposit return scheme to tackle plastic pollution

United Kingdom to introduce deposit return scheme to tackle plastic pollution

CEO Hugo Tagholm said: "Surfers Against Sewage is thrilled with the government announcement committing the country to a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles, drinks containers and cans".

BRITAIN today announced plans for consumers to pay a deposit on plastic bottles as part of a broader push to tackle pollution.

This is often done through a network of "reverse vending machines", where a machine gives out money when a plastic or glass bottle is returned.

The consultation will look at the details of how such a scheme would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said there was no doubt that plastic was "wreaking havoc" on the marine environment and discarded plastic bottles and cans "end up dumped on pavements and lobbed into rivers, lakes and the sea".

Some countries already have deposit return schemes which charge an upfront deposit on drinks containers, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany, that is redeemed when the empty bottle or can is returned.

Officials say that British consumers use around 13 billion plastic drink bottles every year. It has also banned microbeads and introduced a 5p charge on plastic bags. Now plastics producers pay just 10% of the cost of recycling packaging.

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The Norwegian scheme was brought in by the drinks manufacturers themselves, rather than the Government, after a tax was introduced on un-recycled bottles.

He said: "This raises the prospect of the world's most attractive country becoming free from drinks container litter at last".

Samantha Harding, at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the news was "a huge win for the countryside as well as our oceans".

"I am thrilled that we will finally see the many benefits a deposit system will bring to England, not least the absence of ugly drinks containers in our handsome countryside", says Samantha Harding, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England. What's significant is that producers will now pay the full costs of their packaging, reducing the burden on the taxpayer and setting a strong precedent for other schemes where the polluter pays'.

Elena Polisano, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, told the Guardianthat she was glad to see the government acting on public opinion, but, "The government must be careful to avoid a voluntary scheme that only applies to some retailers".

Suez has called for a deposit return scheme which targets plastic bottles and aluminium cans smaller than 700ml, such as soft drinks cans and bottles of water bought to be drunk on the go. This supports a circular economy within the drinks industry and reduces its reliance on virgin plastics.


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