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New Deposit Return Scheme Inquiry Launched By The EAC

A new inquiry into a possible UK deposit return scheme for drinks containers has been launched by the Environmental Audit Committee to tackle plastic waste.

Deposit Return Scheme

A deposit return scheme essentially serves as an incentive for individuals to return specific packaging items; a small deposit is paid at the time of purchase that can be reclaimed when the packaging item is returned.

These schemes are currently in place in more than 40 countries around the world and are generally successful. These countries typically experience recycling rates of 80% or more for the items their DRS schemes cover, with Norway’s plastic drinks bottles DRS achieving more than 95%.

We wrote in detail about the intended deposit return schemes throughout the UK last year, follow the link to read more about this subject: ‘The UK’s Drinks Containers Deposit-Return Scheme’.

Plastic Bottles

The EAC in 2017 found that more than 5.5 billion plastic bottles are littered, incinerated or thrown into landfill every year in the UK. It was this discovery that caused the committee to begin pushing for a UK DRS as a means to tackle the growing problem of plastic waste.

An initial consultation took place in parliament in August 2019, and a second was promised for the spring 2021 before the planned launch in 2023. The government has put forward a potential framework for the DRS in the Environment Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament.

The focus of this new inquiry will be finalising the design of the DRS in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as considering how to extend it into a network that can operate alongside the independently legislated Scottish DRS that is also being planned.

Environmental Audit Committee

Philip Dunne MP, the chairman of the EAC, said at the launch of the inquiry, “The introduction of a deposit return scheme is eagerly awaited. Our committee is keen to help frame the scheme to ensure it increases recycling and reduces waste, without creating unintended consequences which could undermine the need to minimise the environmental impact of what we consume. I urge those interested in both policy and practical aspects of the scheme to let us know your views.”

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