Deposit return schemes (DRSs) for drinks cans and bottles are a “very expensive” way of achieving “very little”, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) think tank.
The IEA report finds that a DRS will cost almost £1bn to set up and £184m a year to run, and is likely to collect only an extra 10-15% of recyclables more, worth just £37m.
While it is better to recover and recycle waste than send it to landfill, the report argues that the cost is “excessive”, and “a relatively small proportion of cans and bottles should not be recovered at any cost”.
The report argued that the Government’s impact assessment of such a scheme put an “unfeasibly high value” on the “intangible benefits of a modest reduction in littering” while ignoring the significant costs to consumers of collecting and returning their containers.
Author and IEA head of lifestyle economics Chris Snowdon said: “It is a loss-making enterprise which consumers will ultimately pay for. Everybody is going to have to start traipsing off to collection points with bottles and cans which would otherwise be recovered with a minimum of hassle through kerbside collection.
“To make the scheme appear worthwhile, the Government has put an unfeasibly large figure on the value of a modest reduction in littering while totally ignoring the unpaid labour that will be expected of every household.
“Increasing recycling rates is a noble aim but it should not be done at any cost.”