Deposit returns - it's a new dawn for recycling in England

Sue Kinsey By: Sue Kinsey
Date posted: 28 March 2018


After years of campaigning together with fellow NGOs such as Campaign to Protect Rural England, Surfers against Sewage and Greenpeace, Michael Gove has announced that there is to be a deposit refund system (DRS) for England.

This is fantastic news, but of course is only the first step in actually getting a system in place!


We will now have to go through a consultation process which, undoubtedly, will give those set against DRS (think: most of the drinks manufacturers, the plastics industry more widely) the chance to make a concerted effort to derail positive steps to bring in a useful and effective system of recycling.

The best system, and one that will give us the greatest increase in high quality recycling and decrease in litter, will be one where, at a minimum, glass, plastic and metal drinks containers of all sizes are included in it. Provision must be made for the inclusion of other materials such as tetrapaks, and for new materials that might come into use. The deposit should also have the possibility of being reviewed and increased to ensure the best possible uptake of the scheme.

Scotland, of course, is already committed to bringing in a scheme which is at an advanced stage of its design phase. It is imperative that the two governments talk to one another to ensure that schemes are harmonised, so that for the consumer taking back a bottle or can in Bristol is no different to taking one back in Aberdeen. I also hope that Wales and Northern Ireland will soon get on board so that systems operate across the whole of the UK.

The data supplied by our thousands of amazing volunteers over the more than 20 years we have been running beach cleans played a big part in us being able to prove the need for a DRS. Drinks containers such as plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans as well as bottle caps always feature high in any beach clean and last year during one Great British Beach Clean weekend we found 3,540 plastic bottles, 2,674 cans and 11, 154 plastic bottle tops all in all making up 57 drinks containers for every 100m surveyed.

With a properly designed DRS in place I am hoping that we will see a dramatic fall in this type of litter on our beaches and in our seas.