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Inquiry launched for deposit return scheme on drinks packaging

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Inquiry launched for deposit return scheme on drinks packaging

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has launched an inquiry looking at the introduction of deposit return schemes (DRS) across the UK.

The scheme involves adding a small deposit on top of the price of a product which is refunded when the waste is returned to an in-store collection point.

The government hopes to implement a DRS for England from 2023 and the inquiry comes ahead of the expected publication of three government consultations this Spring.

The consultations cover three areas of policy: consistency in recycling collections, extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging, and a DRS for drinks packaging.

Philip Dunne, the EAC’s chairman, said: “The introduction of a deposit return scheme is eagerly awaited.

“Our committee is keen to help frame the scheme to ensure it increases recycling and reduces waste, without creating unintended consequences which could undermine the need to minimise the environmental impact of what we consume.

“I urge those interested in both policy and practical aspects of the scheme to let us know your views.”

The EAC has invited written submissions from interested parties by 5 March on several areas relating to the DRS.

These include the potential relationship between the DRS and other packaging waste initiatives promoted under the Resources and Waste Strategy and the types of waste to be collected under the scheme, amongst others.

Around 40 countries have a DRS in place. The plastic drinks bottle scheme in Norway is said to have led to 95% of those items being recycled.

In December 2017 the EAC found that the UK landfills, litters or incinerates 5.5 billion plastic bottles per year. It subsequently called for a DRS to be established to help tackle the rise in plastic waste.

Meanwhile, the majority of local councillors in England (71% ) believe waste and recycling charges will have to be introduced to meet proposed standardised collections, according to new research.

An online survey of 552 councillors on the Environment Bill was conducted by YouGov in November, and also found that a significant minority (27%) did not believe that standardising collections would boost recycling and just more than half (52%) believed the scheme would increase recycling rates in their area.

Almost three quarters (73%) of the councillors were confident that their local authority would meet government targets and recycle 65% of municipal waste by 2035.

All English local authorities will be expected to collect a core set of materials from households, by 2023.

This will cover at least: glass bottles and containers, paper and card, plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays, and steel and aluminium tins and cans.