UK to introduce deposit return scheme for single-use bottles

Consumers use an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year but more than three billion are not recycled

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A deposit return scheme for single-use bottles is to be introduced in England subject to consultation later this year.

It will include plastic, glass or metal drink containers and is part of the UK Government’s efforts to boost recycling rates and slash the amount of waste polluting the land and seas.

While the scheme will increase prices for consumers, they will get the money back when they return the bottle.

Similar schemes already operate in other countries, with deposit costs ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany.

UK consumers use an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute the streets and marine environment.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment – killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats. It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.

“We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”

The consultation will look at the details of how the scheme would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling.

It follows the consultation launched by Chancellor Philip Hammond recently to explore how changes to the tax system or charges could be used to reduce single-use plastic waste.