Overwhelming support for Bottles For Change

Date posted: 14 May 2019

The 12-week consultation on the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has now closed. A staggering 25,049 people sent in consultation responses through our Bottles For Change campaign site, which is an incredible response and shows that people around the UK share our passion for tackling an issue that has such a detrimental impact on our ocean.

Bottles on beach
© Natasha Ewins

The rest of the UK must follow the Scottish Government’s lead to ensure we have the best systems in place across the UK.

Sandy Luk,
MCS CEO

The message is clear to us and now to the UK and Welsh governments and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland (DAERA) – we need a world-leading ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) that will accept drinks cans and bottles of all sizes and materials.

In addition to the support from our partner organisations within the environmental sector, tens of thousands of our supporters have put the pressure on, which will have been felt strongly and will prove instrumental in determining what system is put in place. Ministerial action across the UK could now provide a massive win for our oceans. At MCS, we’re determined to see this happen.

Michael Gove, the Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), has pledged to introduce some kind of DRS for England and our recent polling suggests that there is overwhelming public support. But he must resist the pressures of industry if we are to get compatible systems across the UK that follow the ambitious standard set by the Scotland model.

Following the Have You Got The Bottle? campaign, of which MCS was a founding partner, Scotland’s Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham confirmed that cans, some plastic containers and, crucially, glass will be covered by the scheme, with reference to our polling data.

Industry has been lobbying against the inclusion of glass, but other plastics like milk bottles and materials such as tetrapaks and pouches are not to be included initially. The deposit will be set at 20p for all containers of all sizes.

It’s a significant win, but we need the rest of the UK to be as ambitious.

“The rest of the UK must follow the Scottish Government’s lead to ensure we have the best systems in place across the UK. We need to have compatible schemes so that there is no confusion among consumers and so that we can increase recycling and help to reduce the tide of glass and plastic bottles and cans blighting our shores and seas,” said MCS CEO, Sandy Luk.

As part of the Bottles for Change campaign, we were also busy talking to businesses, MPs and Welsh AMs to get their support, proving that it’s not just the right decision for the ocean but for the public, local government, supermarkets, corner shops, manufacturers and the whole marine environment.

In addition, our CEO sent an open letter to the CEOs of the UK’s top ten supermarkets telling them they must back our vision for an ambitious DRS, explaining that anything less would fail to protect our ocean from litter, particularly glass, aluminium cans and plastic. In a separate letter, Mr Gove along with other UK and Welsh ministers were urged to introduce the strongest possible system and to resist industry pressure.

We will continue our dialogue with ministers and decision-makers, to share with them the support that we have received for our campaign and will keep our supporters up-to-date on developments as they happen.

Once again, many thanks for your support.

Actions you can take

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

Did you know?…

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