Deposit Refund System announced for England

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 28 March 2018

Money-back scheme will go a long way to help stop the plastic tide

We are delighted with the announcement of a scheme for deposit returns on plastic and glass bottles and metal cans to be introduced in England.

Wave Crashing
© Brett Allen / Shutterstock

An average of 72 beverage containers per 100m of beach in England were found in our Great British Beach Clean survey in 2017. This is a win-win situation for consumers, tax payers and the environment alike.

Dr Sue Kinsey,
MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer

Environment Secretary Michael Gove described the plans in an interview with Sky Ocean Rescue as a “potential game changer”, saying that a consultation will begin shortly which will define how the system will work with other mechanisms to stop the plastic tide, such as potential taxes and charges to reduce waste from single-use plastics.

Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer, says the move will lead to a big reduction in waste when it comes into place.”Deposit refund systems for bottles and cans have been proven to work in around 40 countries around the world. We’re confident that this scheme will help reduce the amount of litter on our coasts and in our seas and increase high quality recycling.”

“UK consumers use 13 billion plastic bottles each year, and an average of 72 beverage containers per 100m of beach in England were found in our Great British Beach Clean survey in 2017. This is a win-win situation for consumers, tax payers and the environment alike.”

MCS has campaigned for many years for deposit refund systems to be introduced, along with partner organisations Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Surfers Against Sewage and Greenpeace. Our surveys have found plastic drinks bottles, along with caps, lids, cans and glass bottles and other plastic on-the-go drink and food waste items, consistently featuring in the top ten of litter types strewn on UK beaches. Together these items account for up to 20% of all rubbish found in Marine Conservation Society beach cleans and surveys spanning almost 25 years.

Since September 2016, over 10,000 drinks bottles and cans littered all over the UK’s rural, urban and coastal landscapes have been reported to MCS by members of the public on its #wildbottlesightings webpage. 73% of the British public, questioned in a YouGov poll for MCS in 2017, support the introduction of deposit return systems (DRS) across the UK for single-use drinks bottles (plastic and glass) and cans.

With now both England and Scotland committing to a Deposit Refund System, we would urge Wales and Northern Ireland to follow suit, and we hope that all the governments of the UK will work together to produce harmonised systems for all drinks containers for the benefit of our coasts, seas and countryside.

MCS is currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

Actions you can take

  1. Learn about Deposit Return Systems
  2. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2017
  3. See our map of reported bottle sightings
  4. Take your own reusable bottle out and about
  5. Survey showing public support
  6. Join the Plastic Challenge
  7. Report your #wildbottlesighting using our form
  8. Help us stop the plastic tide

Did you know?…

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of almost all marine species including fish, birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles

Around 40% of UK beach litter can be directly sourced to the public

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thought to be 6 times the size of the UK

The future of fisheries is being decided

Fisheries CampaignThe UK government has opened a public consultation asking how we think they should manage our fisheries after Brexit through a new Fisheries Bill.

Act now!