Deposit Return Scheme could increase plastic bottle production, Alupro survey finds

Written by: Maddie Ballard | Published:
Alupro executive director Rick Hindley

An ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers could result in an extra 823 million plastic bottles being produced, new research from the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) shows.

Currently favoured by the UK government and set to be implemented in Scotland in 2021, the all-in DRS would see a set deposit amount placed on every can or bottle of any size.

Alupro asked 2,000 UK adults to imagine there was a set 20p deposit on every drinks container, as is proposed in Scotland.

When faced with the option of paying a £4.80 deposit on top of the price of a 24-can multipack or an 80p deposit for four large plastic bottles containing the same amount of liquid, two-thirds of respondents said they would likely switch to plastic.

This, Alupro said, would likely increase plastic production.

The survey found that 83% of people were concerned that a DRS could increase plastic consumption.

Alupro’s research also revealed that one in five people (19%) would still end up using their home recycling bin to dispose of empty drinks containers, despite being able to recover their deposit at a designated collection point.

Additionally, 22% of respondents admitted it would be difficult to regularly take their containers to a collection point and Alupro is concerned many of those struggling to return their containers will be the least able to afford to lose a deposit.

The government plans to implement an ‘all-in’ DRS in Scotland in 2021, where drinks containers will likely all have a 20p deposit attached.

Alupro is pushing for a variable deposit fee based on the size of the container, to keep infinitely recyclable aluminium and glass in greater circulation. Rick Hindley, Alupro executive director, said: “A variable deposit fee based on the size of the container avoids changing current consumer purchasing habits.

“Consumers are sophisticated enough to understand a variable deposit fee as is the norm in Scandinavian countries where deposit return schemes are well established. We urge the Scottish government and UK government to consider the impact of other schemes.”

Countryside charity Campaign to Protect Rural England research found an 'all-in' DRS could bring a £2 billion boost to the economy over 10 years.


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