Deposit return scheme planned to cut plastic pollution

Plastic bottle litter

The UK government has announced plans to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks bottles and cans, in an effort to reduce pollution. Out of the 13 billion plastic drinks bottles used each year in the UK a year, over three billion go to landfill or incineration or simply turn into litter.

"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," said Environment Secretary Michael Gove in a statement.

"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."

Gove deposit return scheme 2

The government is looking to follow the lead of countries like Denmark, Sweden and Germany whose deposit return schemes have significantly boosted recycling rates to up to 97 per cent. Shoppers pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink which they get back when they return the empty drink container, often through a 'reverse vending machine' system. These schemes push the responsibility of collecting and recycling metal, glass and plastic packaging onto retailers and brands, rather than consumers and councils.

Although the scheme is in its early stages, with a consultation to planned for later this year, environmental organisations have welcomed the announcement.

Bill Bryson, author and former president of Campaign to Protect Rural England, comments: "Future generations will look back on this decision as a piece of supremely enlightened policymaking, and one that raises the prospect of the world's most beautiful country becoming free from drinks container litter at last."

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