Michael Gove suggests plastic bottle deposit scheme

3rd October 2017 | Recycling

The government is to consider whether to introduce a “reward and return” scheme for plastic bottles to try to improve recycling rates. Environment Secretary Michael Gove appealed for view on how such a system might work in England.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have recently said they are also considering introducing a deposit scheme, an idea backed by drinks giant Coca-Cola. Greenpeace backed the move, but retailers said it would hit customers.

Speaking to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Gove said action was needed to protect marine life from plastic waste.

“That means tackling the rise in plastic bottles entering our waters by making it simpler and easier to recycle and dispose of them appropriately,” he said.

Bottle Deposit

The government said deposit schemes – which involve a small surcharge paid by consumers being refunded when bottles are returned – had been successful in other countries. One 57% of plastic bottles sold in the UK in 2016 were collected for recycling, it said.

Mr Gove favours some sort of deposit scheme – but wants the information to choose the best one available. His statement of intent has been cautiously greeted by environmentalists, who have been calling for a deposit scheme for decades. Now they’re urging him to implement a scheme swiftly – without the delay that accompanies the 5p plastic bag charge, which was fiercely resisted by the industry.

They say reverse vending machines have made it much easier to recycle now that in previous times when the hard work fell on the shopkeeper.
Glass bottle deposit return systems used to be common in the UK until the 1980s.

The government has not yet given details on how a “reward and return” scheme might work in practice in England – its working group on recycling will consider the views submitted and report back in December.

More information available on the website below