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Deposit scheme evidence period extended

Defra has extended the period for consultation on how reward and return schemes for drinks containers could work in England.

The call for evidence opened on 2 October and was originally for four weeks. This has now been extended by three weeks to close on 20 November.

A statement from Defra’s website says: “This will allow as many people as possible to feed in their views on this important inquiry.

“Ministers have asked the Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group, set up as part of the Litter Strategy, to accelerate its work and report back early in the new year – this timetable has not been altered.”

Scotland and Wales have already said that deposit return schemes (DRS) were under consideration and, earlier this year, Coca-Cola in the UK reversed its long-held opposition to such schemes – as long as they were “well-designed”.

Nick Brown, head of sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners, told the Environment Audit Committee this month: ”We have seen that other countries which have a deposit scheme have improved recovery rates of packaging and reduced littering, which is important to us.

“We understand that things need to change both with household waste collection and packaging on-the-go. We think a deposit scheme can work in that context.”

Local authorities fear their revenue from household recycling of drinks containers will fall, although consultancy Eunomia produced a report this month for Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) which said that councils could save up to £35m a year if a DRS for drinks containers was introduced.

Defra minister Therese Coffey said she doubted whether the small number of councils used for the research was sufficient, while LARAC chair Andrew Bird said: “The headline savings coming from the modelling in this report are unlikely to be achieved to the levels stated in the real world.”

Suez technical development director Stuart Hayward-Higham, speaking at the KBT report launch, said Suez backed a DRS but, unless it was embedded in a wider strategy, it could lead to “unintended consequences”.

At the original evidence call launch, environment secretary Michael Gove said: “This approach has already seen great success in other countries such as Denmark in curbing plastic pollution, and we want to hear people’s ideas on how we could make it work in England.”

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