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Will a Deposit Return Scheme Increase Recycling Rates?

Will a Deposit Return Scheme Increase Recycling Rates?

Will the Introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme Really Increase Recycling Rates?

A deposit return scheme might not actually increase the overall recycling rate, a parliamentary committee has heard.

Evidence presented from leaders in the plastics, retail, and beverage industries was presented to the committee, after they were asked what they believed were the best ways to increase recycling rates in the UK.

A deposit return scheme for plastic bottles is one of the options being considered by the government.

Why deposit return might not be the answer

The committee was told that there is no real evidence that such a scheme would have a dramatic effect on recycling rates in England. Representatives from the Plastics Federation told MPs that they believed that focusing on just one type of plastic waste would cause the overall recycling rate to go down as there would be too much focus on making the deposit return scheme work.

They suggested that a better option would be to encourage manufacturers of packaging to contribute financially towards recycling projects.

There are also concerns that huge companies like Coca Cola are only demonstrating a commitment to recycling for PR reasons.

Coca Cola Bottle

The UK position on deposit return

The government are currently looking into how a deposit return scheme in England would work. They are working with organisations and those from relevant industries, including big names like Tesco, to discuss and assess how such a scheme would work in England. The findings are set to be revealed in a report in the new year.

Why is a scheme being considered?

There are growing concerns about the threat to marine life, and to the environment from the huge amount of plastic that is dumped in our ocean every year, which equates to around 8 million tonnes. In England, only 57% of plastic bottles were recycled last year and this has encouraged the government to seriously consider what measures can be taken to tackle the problem of plastic pollution.

The government are looking to existing successful schemes in countries like Denmark, where around 90% of bottles are recycled.

A further argument for deposit return

A report has found that councils in England could save £35 million per year by introducing a deposit return scheme. The report claims that councils would have less litter to clear up, less landfill charges to pay and less household recycling to collect and sort.

This challenges the concerns that some people have about the logistics of introducing a deposit return scheme and the resulting cost for councils.

Environmental groups argue that the cost of not dealing with plastic litter now is far greater than the cost of successfully implementing and maintaining a deposit return scheme.

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