Deposit scheme to crack down on plastic pollution

1st May 2018

P11 plastic bottle istock

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Related tags

  • Prevention & Control ,
  • Recycling ,
  • Waste


Laura Mugridge

The fight against plastic pollution – spurred by the spotlight on ocean pollution in the television series Blue Planet II – has taken a positive turn. The government’s deposit return scheme (DRS) for single-use drinks containers will be given the green light in England, subject to consultation later in the year.

The scheme is aimed at cutting down littering and pollution, and encouraging more efficient recycling, by giving a small cash sum to those using the DRS. The products are purchased, used and returned to the retailer; the sum of money is paid to the consumer; and the retailer then recycles the product.

Only 43% of plastic bottles in the UK – a total of around 13 billion – are recycled. In Germany, where a DRS was introduced in 2003, the equivalent rate is 99%.

The method of returning planned for UK use is widely believed to be a ‘reverse’ vending machine, where the product is inserted and the cash provided. In schemes operating in other countries, the cash sum can vary depending on the size of the bottle or can returned.

It has not been made clear yet whether all retailers will be required to take part in the scheme, or if it will be applied to those within a similar scope to that of the launch of the single-use plastic bag charges.


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