Deposit Refund System announced for England

Date posted: 28 March 2018

Marine Conservation Society says decision is a massive step forward to tackle marine litter

The Marine Conservation Society is delighted at the announcement made by Environmental Secretary Michael Gove today, that a scheme for deposit returns on plastic and glass bottles and metal cans is to be introduced in England. The charity says the move will lead to a big reduction in waste when it comes into place.

Wave Crashing
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The deposit system plans are subject to a consultation, Defra says, and MCS agrees that this will need to work with other mechanisms to stop the plastic tide, such as potential taxes and charges to reduce waste from single-use plastics.

Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer, says “Deposit refund systems for bottles and cans have been proven to work in around 40 countries around the world. We are confident that this scheme will help reduce the amount of litter on our coasts and in our seas and increase high quality recycling. UK consumers use 13 billion plastic bottles each year, and an average of 72 beverage containers per 100m of beach in England were found in our Great British Beach Clean survey in 2017. This is a win-win situation for consumers, tax payers and the environment alike”.

The Marine Conservation Society has campaigned for many years for deposit refund systems to be introduced, having found plastic drinks bottles, along with caps, lids, cans and glass bottles and other plastic on-the-go drink and food waste items, consistently featuring in the top ten of litter types strewn on UK beaches. Together these items account for up to 20% of all rubbish found in Marine Conservation Society beach cleans and surveys spanning almost 25 years.

Last December, MCS launched a campaign to #stoptheplastictide advocating for deposit return schemes and for the introduction of substantial levies on single use (throwaway) plastic items. According to Luca Bonaccorsi, Director of Engagement and Communications: “This is a massive step forward in the fight against plastic pollution. Together with the introduction of charges on senseless throwaway plastic that we are expecting to be included in the October Budget round, this decision is likely to make a real difference”.

Since September 2016, over 10,000 drinks bottles and cans littered all over the UK’s rural, urban and coastal landscapes have been reported to MCS by members of the public on its #wildbottlesightings webpage. 73% of the British public, questioned in a YouGov poll for MCS in 2017, support the introduction of deposit return systems (DRS) across the UK for single-use drinks bottles (plastic and glass) and cans.

With now both England and Scotland committing to a Deposit Refund System, we would urge Wales and Northern Ireland to follow suit, and we hope that all the governments of the UK will work together to produce harmonised systems for all drinks containers for the benefit of our coasts, seas and countryside.

MCS’s appeal to tackle the rising problem of plastic in our seas can be found here.

Actions you can take

  1. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  2. Help us stop the plastic tide

Did you know?…

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of almost all marine species including fish, birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles

Since the carrier bag charge came in across the UK, the Great British Beach Clean has recorded almost 50% fewer bags on beaches

Every day millions of microplastics enter the sea from personal care products such as scrubs and toothpastes

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Clare Fischer
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