Recycling – has the government bottled it?

Barry White

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has given the go-ahead for a deposit return scheme (DRS) but it will not include glass and won’t start until October 2025, see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/deposit-return-scheme-for-drinks-containers-moves-a-step-closer. The failure to include glass in the scheme, which was a government 2019 manifesto promise, has been criticised by campaigners as a missed opportunity.

No decision has been taken yet on the amount of refund in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the government setting a target of 85% of returnable drinks containers using the scheme. In Scotland the refund has been set at 20p.

The government estimates that every year UK consumers go through an estimated around 14 billion plastic drinks bottles and nine billion drinks cans, many of which are littered or condemned to landfill.

The announcement has been criticised by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), which has campaigned for a DRS to tackle plastic pollution. Amy Slack from the group said: “Whilst we should celebrate action being taken against the scourge of plastic pollution, this much delayed announcement on DRS appears a huge missed opportunity.

“The government has rolled back on its 2019 manifesto commitment to include glass, one of the most environmentally damaging materials. This is frankly nonsensical and puts England at odds with systems being introduced in Scotland and Wales, hindering UK-wide compatibility.”

“At the final hurdle, this government bottled it and excluded glass from the scheme”, says Megan Randles from Greenpeace UK. In what kind of world is collecting glass drinks containers not an essential part of a system designed to collect drinks containers?”

According to the proposals supermarkets will host “reverse vending machines” where bottles are returned for money.

Sources: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-64346991 and https://www.theguardian.com/environment/recycling

Surfers Against Sewage: https://www.sas.org.uk/

Photo: Barry White.

 

 

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