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Deposit Return Schemes are on the way UK wide

Today’s announcement of the Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is welcome news. 

Scotland will launch a Deposit Return Scheme in August 2023, and we welcome the decision that the other UK nations will follow suit, introducing schemes by 2025. 

We know that Deposit Return Schemes should increase recycling rates, reduce carbon emissions and have the potential to significantly reduce litter whilst also promoting circular economy principles. In scope items in Scotland include drinks containers made from PET plastic, glass and metal.

Wales will follow Scotland’s lead on an all-in Deposit Return Scheme by including glass, but in England and Northern Ireland the schemes will only include PET bottles, steel cans and aluminium cans.

Catherine Gee, our Deputy CEO, said: “In an ideal world we would want to see an all-in Deposit Return Scheme introduced across the whole of the UK at the same time. A scheme that accepts the same material types makes it easy for people to understand and use, and clearer for businesses to support the implementation.  However, we recognise the differences between the devolved nations and welcome the positive environmental impact that the introduction of a DRS will have.

“From litter data that we gather through our national auditing programme, we know that drinks related litter was recorded on more than 40% of sites surveyed last year, so a deposit return on bottles and cans will no doubt make a difference to the number of these items that are littered. 

“But we also recognise that there is a need to focus on those items of litter not included, and on the increase, such as cigarette litter and single use vapes, and soft plastics used to make crisp packets and sweet wrappers.

“We look forward to supporting the roll out of the DRS in Scotland with both data monitoring and public engagement and will work with our partners in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to continue to call for a consistent system across the UK.”

We will continue to work with our partners, volunteers and relevant stakeholders to ensure that the #LitterEmergency is taken seriously, and that all these schemes play an active, measured and successful part in tackling litter and waste.  This includes continuing to call for England and Northern Ireland to widen their Extended Producer Responsibility proposals for packaging to include ground litter, something which has been confirmed for Scotland and Wales.

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20 January 2023

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