I wholeheartedly congratulate Michael Gove for his wisdom in finally accepting the case for a deposit return system in the UK - I never thought I would see this in my lifetime
Michael Gove, the environment secretary, was today "wholeheartedly congratulated" for his decision to introduce a nationwide deposit return system (DRS) for plastic and glass bottles by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) - which had been campaigning for the policy for a decade.
The conservation charity argues that the introduction will help boost recycling rates and combat the plague of litter blighting our countryside. It claimed this was is a watershed moment for recycling in the UK, given that similar systems around the world produce extremely high results.
The long-awaited decision came following a call for evidence in October last year which investigated how the littering of plastic, metal and glass drinks containers could be reduced, as well as the recycling of them increased.
The evidence submitted was examined by retail giants such as Coca-Cola and Tesco, alongside other members of the Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group, for which CPRE provided the secretariat.
The CPRE has campaigned for the introduction of a DRS for 10 years, and are "absolutely delighted by the announcement". There has been increasing pressure from environmental organisations, the media and the public for more action to be taken against the tide of waste that is polluting our natural environments - with single-use drinks containers being a huge contributor.
Samantha Harding, Litter Programme Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “This is a brilliant and significant decision by Michael Gove. I am thrilled that we will finally see the many benefits a deposit system will bring to England, not least the absence of ugly drinks containers in our beautiful countryside.
“What’s significant is that producers will now pay the full costs of their packaging, reducing the burden on the taxpayer and setting a strong precedent for other schemes where the polluter pays. This really is a bold and exciting step by the Government.”
Bill Bryson, author and former President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “I wholeheartedly congratulate Michael Gove for his wisdom in finally accepting the case for a deposit return system in the UK - I never thought I would see this in my lifetime.
"Future generations will look back on this decision as a piece of supremely enlightened policymaking, and one that raises the prospect of the world’s most beautiful country becoming free from drinks container litter at last. My most profound gratitude goes to the tireless campaigners and heroic litter pickers of CPRE who, for the past decade, have kept the issue alive in the minds of our politicians, press and public.”
Emma Bridgewater, President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “This landmark announcement is the breakthrough we have been waiting for. CPRE have been campaigning for the introduction of a DRS for almost 10 years – it has been a long battle, but this significant victory is an enormous leap forward in the war against waste.
“Our countryside, oceans and wildlife have long since been the victim of our obsession with single-use bottles and cans, with the UK producing billions of them year after year. Many end up damaging our natural environments and killing our wildlife – and is also a shocking waste of valuable materials. The proven success of DRS in other countries means that now most of these bottles and cans will be captured and recycled – we congratulate the government on their decision.”
Deposit systems are already successfully operating in 38 countries around the world, producing average recycle rates for collected materials of 90 percent - reaching as high as 95 percent in Norway. The concept is simple – consumers will pay a small deposit on top of the cost of any drink that they buy. This is then returned to the customer when the container is returned to a retailer.
Economic incentives such as these are proven to be the best driver of behaviour change when it comes to boosting recycling and reducing waste. The consumption of plastic bags has gone down by more than 80 percent in England since the 5p charge was introduced.
Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This story is based on a press release from Campaign to Protect Rural England.