The government has released details of its Deposit Return Scheme for plastic drinks bottles and cans, which will come into force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2025.
New plans reveal that, through small cash deposits placed on single-use drinks containers, people will be incentivised to recycle their drinks bottles and cans, reducing litter and plastic pollution.
The scheme will use reverse vending machines and designated sites where people can return their containers and receive their cash back. In most cases, it would be the retailers who sell drinks covered by the scheme who would host a return point.
It aims to ensure 85% fewer drinks containers are discarded as litter after three years of its launch.
Every year UK consumers go through an estimated around 14 billion plastic drinks bottles and nine billion drinks cans, many of which are littered or condemned to landfill.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “We want to support people who want to do the right thing to help stop damaging plastics polluting our green spaces or floating in our oceans and rivers.
“That is why we are moving ahead using our powers from our landmark Environment Act to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers.
“This will provide a simple and effective system across the country that helps people reduce litter and recycle more easily, even when on the move.”
The next step is to establish a Deposit Management Organisation – an independent, industry-led organisation – to run the scheme and set the amount for the refundable deposit.
International deposit return schemes have helped boost recycling rates above 90% in Germany, Finland and Norway. Current recycling rates for drinks containers in the UK sit at around 70%.
Scotland has its own deposit return scheme due to go live in August that will add a 20p refundable rate to all drinks containers.
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