UK to add levy on bottles and cans to reduce wasteBy Lauren Eads
The UK government is launching a consultation on a deposit scheme that could see a refundable charge added to the cost of single-use glass, plastic, steel and aluminium bottles and cans in an effort to reduce waste and increase recycling.
In the same way that plastic bags are now subject to a 5p charge, the UK government wants to to add a cost to bottles and cans, which will be refunded to the customer if they are brought back to deposit centre.
It follows an episode of the BBC’s Blue Planet, in which naturalist David Attenborough drove home the devastating impact that plastic was having on our planet with footage of wildlife eating plastic. It predicted that by 2050, there would be more plastic bottles in the sea than fish.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said there was no doubt that plastic was “wreaking havoc” on the marine environment with thousands of plastic bottles and cans ending up in rivers, lakes and the sea each year. UK consumers use around 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year but more than three billion are not recycled.
“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,” he said.
“We need to see a change in attitudes and behaviour. And the evidence shows that reward and return schemes are a powerful agent of change.”
Similar schemes are already in place in Sweden and Germany, while Scotland launched a consultation to introduce a similar scheme last year.
“We will continue to work with the Government to look at the details of any new deposits legislation to make sure that it works for both brewers and small businesses like pubs,” said Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA. “It is good to see DEFRA acknowledging that the burden on the hospitality sector must be carefully considered in designing any new scheme.
“It is also good to see DEFRA promising to work with the Scottish Government on a single UK scheme. Whilst the UK does not begin from the same starting position as Scandinavia, most of their deposit schemes are industry led. It is essential that any mandatory approach does not add significant costs for businesses or consumers. Any new policy must take into account the cost base of pubs, whilst protecting and enhancing the environment in which we all live.”
Likewise, large-scale bottler and distributor Kingsland Drinks welcomed the consultation.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of environmental charity A Plastic Planet, added: “This is a great milestone on the journey to a plastic-free future for food and drink. A deposit return scheme is not the final solution to the plastic crisis, however.