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UK government urged to introduce deposits on beverage containers

United Kingdom – The Environmental Audit Committee has called for the introduction of a UK-wide deposit return scheme for PET drinks bottles and for the phasing-in of a mandated 50% recycled plastic content in plastic bottles ‘to be achieved by 2023 at the latest’.

The committee, whose remit is to consider how far policies and programmes of UK government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, is also saying: that producers should be made financially responsible for their plastic packaging; and that there should be a requirement to provide free drinking water in public premises serving food and drink as a means of discouraging ‘unnecessary use of plastic water bottles which clog up our rivers and seas’.

The UK government’s upcoming waste strategy should also examine whether to introduce a deposit return scheme for other beverage containers – such as aluminium cans – in order to ‘foster a culture of recycling packaging used on-the-go’, says the committee.

Based on research, it adds, the scheme should look to place a 10-20p (US cents 13.5-27) deposit on top of the product price that will be refunded to the consumer upon return of the bottle or can.

The Environmental Audit Committee’s chair Mary Creagh MP argues that the introduction of a small charge to encourage the return of plastic bottles ‘will result in less littering, more recycling and reduction in the impact of plastic packaging on our natural environment’.

Noting that ‘packaging producers don’t currently have to bear the full financial burden of recycling their packaging’, she adds: ‘By reforming producer responsibility charges, the government can ensure that producers and retailers will have financial incentives to design packaging that is easily recyclable, or face higher compliance costs.’

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