Government announced Deposit Return Scheme intentions

28 MARCH 2018

Defra has announced the Government's intention to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme to England with plans for a consultation later in the year. In parallel, Defra's Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group has published a report on the potential for DRS which is decidedly lukewarm in its support and suggests that such a scheme may do little for either litter or packaging recycling rates beyond what is currently achieved. It warns of the potential heavy cost of introduction and suggests that a reformed Packaging Waste Regulations system may achieve the same result without the upfront cost. The report also warns of problems that may occur if different parts of the UK take different approaches.

Packaging - and especially plastic packaging - is under intense scrutiny at present. Blue Planet and the Sky News 'Dirty Business' both raised the public and political consciousness about the problems of litter in particular, but also poor quality recycling. A range of measures are now under consideration - plastic tax, latte levy, PRN reform, DRS - with the potential for political 'quick fixes' to undermine a properly coordinated strategic policy approach. Much is riding on Defra's much vaunted 'Resource and Waste Strategy' due to be published in late summer which will hopefully apply this strategic approach. But the political pressure to find short term solutions is in danger of undermining this and it is hoped that the Secretary of State will hold off making any quick decisions without the necessary consideration of longer term sustainability.