Deposit return scheme on drinks cans and bottles in the UK could raise £2.3bn for local charities

30th May 2019 | Recycling

A deposit return scheme on drinks cans and bottles in the UK could raise billions for local charities, a survey suggests. Earlier this month, the Scottish Government announced plans for a deposit return scheme that will see a 20p deposit added to the price of single-use drinks containers bought from a shop. The consumer will then get their deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can to the retailer.

While Scotland is likely to be the first nation in the UK to introduce a return scheme, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is currently consulting on a similar initiative in England. In light of this, a poll for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) – a pressure group that seeks to protect the English countryside – has revealed that if the scheme was to be instated across the UK it could raise more than £2.3bn for local charities.

The poll involved more than 2,000 people who answered questions on using a deposit return scheme and found that one fifth of participants (20 per cent) said they would always choose to donate the deposit to charity. Meanwhile, more than a third (19 per cent) said they would donate the deposit at least some of the time.

Deposit Return Scheme

As such, a UK-wide deposit return scheme could provide billions for charities from those who would always, mostly or sometimes donate their deposit instead of reclaiming it. The figure would be even higher if drinks cartons and pouches are included, the pressure group estimates. The countryside charity said that if an option for the public to donate their deposits is included in the scheme, it could build on the success of the carrier bag charge which raised £66m for good causes in 2016/17.

Samantha Harding, litter programme director at CPRE, said the introduction of a UK-wide deposit return scheme could not only put a stop to most of the environmental damage cause by drinks containers and boost recycling rates in excess of 90 per cent but also provide much needed funding for good causes across the country.

“It is fantastic and really heartening that so many people would be happy to donate their deposits in this way,” Harding said. “An effective ‘all-in’ deposit return system will bring an end to the growing disenchantment and scepticism around current recycling methods by doubling current recycling rates. But it’s also evident that the deposit, as well as encouraging the right behaviour in terms of recycling, would allow for people’s generous natures to be realised when it comes to supporting others.”

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