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Working group to investigate drinks container schemes

A Defra working group has launched the promised consultation on deposit and reward and return schemes for drinks containers.

The Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group was set up following publication of the Government’s Litter Strategy in April

The strategy said: “For its first piece of work, ministers will ask the group to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different types of deposit and reward and return schemes for drinks containers, and to provide advice by the end of 2017.

“In taking forward this work, the group will gather evidence from relevant industries and independent experts, and analyse the full cost impacts and benefits of these tools when put together. This should include looking at the administrative costs of such schemes, the effect on consumer prices and the impact on consumers who responsibly dispose of such products via their council-provided household recycling service.”

Defra says the group will look at regulatory or voluntary measures to reduce littering and/or improve the recycling of drinks containers.

Specifically, the call for evidence will be concerned with rigid and flexible plastic, glass or metal drinks containers that are sold sealed, and used for the sale of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, often for consumption ‘on-the-go’.

The group has specifically been asked to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different types of well-designed and well-run deposit and reward and return schemes.

The call for evidence says: “In any advice that we give to ministers, we will need to be mindful of the policy objectives to reduce the littering of these items and increase capture and recycling of materials. Any recommended intervention needs to realise these objectives, whilst having a positive or limited negative effect on other related policies.”

  • Deposit return schemes: those where consumers pay an up-front deposit on an item – such as a sealed drink – at point of purchase, which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container.
  • Reward and return: similar but broader in concept, not necessarily involving an up-front deposit, in which consumers are rewarded for return of the empty container. Rewards could be monetary, but could also include vouchers, loyalty points, prize draws, credits and so on.

The working group says it will consider deposit return schemes being proposed by Zero Waste Scotland and on evidence on plastic bottle and paper cup waste heard by the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee.

 The Campaign to Protect Rural England, a member of the Litter Strategy Advisory Group, will provide the secretariat for the working group

Consultation closes on 30 October.

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