Deposit return scheme – an answer to plastic pollution?

We know that plastic bottles and drinks containers have a significant impact on the environment.

In the UK alone, consumers go through an estimated 13bn plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than 3bn are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute streets, countryside and beaches.

The UK government has confirmed that later this year (subject to consultation) it will introduce a deposit return scheme in England for single use drinks containers (plastic, glass or metal).  The consultation will look at the details of how it would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates.

Deposit return schemes aren’t new; a similar scheme, already operating in Germany, sees consumers paying an up-front deposit when they buy a drink (22p), which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container.

“Reverse vending machines” are used, where the consumer inserts the bottle and the machine returns your money. Once the bottles are returned, the business is then responsible for making sure they are effectively recycled.  This has been incredibly successful in Germany with the recycling rate increasing to 97%.

This return scheme could increase the UK’s recycling rates and go towards slashing the amount of plastic waste that is wreaking havoc with our environment.  But it needs to happen soon.

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