Technological watch

£2 billion boost to the economy from ‘all-in’ deposit return system

The countryside charity, which has campaigned for a deposit system for more than ten years, highlights that, of the two systems currently proposed by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), an ‘all in’ deposit return system could generate £2 billion for the economy over ten years, according to the government’s own impact assessment. This is compared to just £250 million that would be generated by a so-called ‘on-the-go’ system, which would collect just a fraction of drinks containers produced.

A reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill, littered drinks containers and their associated clean-up costs, reduced air and water pollution, as well as fewer carbon emissions caused by the extraction and production of raw materials needed to produce new drinks containers, will result in huge savings for the Treasury, local councils and tax payers.

The introduction of a deposit return system would boost recycling rates for drinks containers to more than 90%, and make the producers of drinks and its packaging financially responsible for the full collection and clean-up costs of the waste that they produce.

CPRE states that any attempt to water down the system by vested interests would be a huge missed opportunity and drastic loss of future revenue for the British economy, with a so-called ‘on-the-go’ system, for example, resulting in a fraction of the economic benefit.

Maddy Haughton-Boakes, litter campaigner at CPRE, said:

‘This is yet more evidence of the positive impact that a deposit return system will have on the whole of society. Taking us towards a circular economy, we will recycle almost all of the drinks cans and bottles we consume, slow down the depletion of scarce resources and reduce carbon emissions, all of which will have a lasting positive impact for our countryside and environment.

‘And if that wasn’t good enough, this solution will generate billions of pounds for our economy. The government has an opportunity to ensure England gets the most effective and economically viable deposit system in the world. A failure to ensure that all drinks containers – of all sizes and materials – are included in the scheme would be a clear sign that they were putting the profits of vested interests above the benefits to society, the economy, our countryside and environment.’

Earlier this year, the Scottish government announced its plans to introduce a deposit return system for glass, plastic, steel and aluminium drinks containers of all sizes. CPRE is calling for the UK government to build on Scotland’s ambition by introducing a fully comprehensive ‘all-in’ system, going one step further than Scotland to include all drinks containers of all sizes and materials – including cartons and pouches – ensuring England gets the most effective and economically viable deposit system in the world. 

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2020-07-14