Deposit return system

Drinks containers such as glass, plastic bottles and aluminium cans are a blight on our beaches. MCS surveys show that drinks containers are frequently among the top 20 litter items found on UK beaches and that the frequency of these items has increased by 4% since 2015.

© Natasha Ewins

How would it work?

For every drinks container you bought, you would pay a small deposit. When you return the drinks container to a collection point such as the retailer or supermarket- you would get this back. Simple!

Does it work?

Such systems can reduce littering, increase high quality recycling and reduce costs for local authorities. Like the carrier bag charge, it’s a simple idea that can have an immediate effect.

Deposit return systems (DRS) already work well in over 40 countries or states worldwide including parts of Australia, Norway, Lithuania and some US states. In South Australia which has a DRS only 2.9% of litter is beverage containers. In Western Australia with no DRS, drinks containers make up 13% of litter.

What’s happening here?

The Scottish Government has already committed, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announcing in September 2017 that Scotland would implement a deposit return system. This was after two years of hard campaign work by the Have You Got The Bottle? Coalition, of which we were founding members. Scotland is now working hard on the design of a system.

In exciting news for England, Michael Gove the Current Secretary of State for the Environment, announced in March that England would bring in a DRS system, and a consultation is being launched later this year.

We are waiting for Wales and Northern Ireland to join in!

Unfortunately, no similar commitment has yet been made in Wales. Last year the Welsh Government commissioned a report to look into Extended Producer Responsibility, including DRS, in Wales, but the findings have yet to be published. We are continuing to put pressure on the Welsh Government to follow in the footsteps of Scotland and England.

Read the eunomia report on DRS

Actions you can take

  1. Survey showing public support
  2. Report your #wildbottlesighting using our form
  3. Join the Plastic Challenge
  4. Take your own reusable bottle out and about
  5. See our map of reported bottle sightings

Did you know?…

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces