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CPRE calls for return of deposit refund schemes

The return of deposit refund schemes (DRSs) for glass, aluminium and plastic drinks bottles in the UK could save local authorities £160m a year, an environmental campaign group has claimed.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) report, Have we got the bottle?, called for the return of the DRS model previously used in the UK, where customers would pay a small deposit on glass and plastic bottles, which they would recoup when they returned them. The CPRE argued that the scheme could help local authorities avoid £160m-worth of waste management costs a year, or £360,000 for an average waste collection authority.

The report claimed the scheme could generate bottle return rates of around 90%. It proposed a deposit rate of 15p for containers less than or equal to 500ml and 30p for containers of more than 500ml. The report also argued that the introduction of DRS schemes could lead to a material recovery rate of “95% compared with a baseline recovery rate of 68%” if 90% return rates were seen.

CPRE president Bill Bryson said: “These findings throw rational and informed light on an issue that is nonsensically contentious in the UK.  What sensible nation would not want to capture and recycle its precious and finite resources?  What discerning people would not want to enjoy a litter-free environment?
“The CPRE has published this research to reignite the debate, so that an effective mechanism which delivers environmental and social benefits in many other countries can be given its proper consideration in the UK.”

The report was welcomed by British Cleaning Council chairman Mark Woodhead, who said: “In these austere times, this is a very serious problem and the year-on-year increase in the cost of clearing up this mess is unsustainable. We need to look at all the ways in which we can address the blight of litter, and this report makes a strong case that a DRS is a viable means of achieving this goal.”

The proposals were also supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, who promised to ask energy secretary Chris Huhne to “look at this issue and see if we can take it forward”.

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