DRS will not come into effect in England, Wales and Northern Ireland until 2024 at earliest.
A promised deposit return scheme for plastic bottles to cut marine pollution will not be in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland until late 2024 at the earliest – six years after it was announced as a key environmental policy.
Rebecca Pow Environment Minister DEFRA announced the publication of a second consultation on a deposit return scheme (DRS)which revealed no such scheme would be introduced until late 2024 – more than a year after the original deadline for the initiative and after the next general election in May of that year.
A DRS was first announced in 2018 to cut the litter polluting the land and sea by returning a small cash sum to consumers who return their bottles and cans. It came after years of campaigning that it was “absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled”.
The government’s manifesto promise in 2019 was to introduce a deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass and the first consultation was met with a high level of support for the scheme – however no decision had yet been made on what kind of deposit scheme should be in place.
Options include an all-in deposit return scheme for all plastic bottles, glass bottles and aluminium drinks cans and a scheme that just covers containers bought and used in takeaways.
Across the UK, an estimated 13bn plastic drinks bottles are thrown away. Only 7.5bn are recycled. The remaining 5.5bn are landfilled, littered or incinerated. The scheme when introduced would cover PET plastic bottles, glass bottles and steel and aluminium cans.
In contrast, the Scottish government has planned to start its deposit return scheme from 1st July 2022 and will make it easier for everyone to recycle their used bottles and cans, including all drinks sold in PET plastic, metal and glass.
Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme has been designed to make it easy for everyone to do the right thing. People will pay a small deposit of 20p, when they buy a drink in a single-use container and then get the deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can.