Government Plans Deposit Return Scheme for Plastics

The government is planning to introduce a deposit return scheme to help increase recycling rates and slash the amount of waste polluting our land and seas.

UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute our streets, countryside and marine environment. To tackle this blight, the government has confirmed it will introduce a deposit return scheme in England for single use drinks containers (whether plastic, glass or metal), subject to consultation later this year.

Similar schemes already operate in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany where ‘reverse vending machines’ are often used – allowing people to insert their bottle and receive their deposit back. The deposit ranges from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany. Possible variants of a deposit return scheme include cash rewards for returning drinks containers without an upfront deposit. Once a bottle is returned, businesses are then responsible for making sure they are effectively recycled – a move that has led to a 97% recycling rate in Germany.