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Deposit return scheme for single-use containers ‘must be affordable’

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has welcomed the UK government’s new Resources and Waste Strategy, but is “unconvinced” by the inclusion of glass drink containers under the proposed deposit return scheme.

The deposit return scheme will increase the recycling of single-use drinks containers

The new strategy unveiled by environment secretary Michael Gove today (18 December) will “overhaul England’s waste system, putting a legal onus on those responsible for producing damaging waste to take greater responsibility and foot the bill”.

To encourage recycling efforts, the government will introduce a consistent set of recyclable material for collection, subject to consultation. The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach will ensure that the industry pay higher fees if their products are harder to reuse, repair or recycle and will encourage sustainable design, subject to consultation. EPR for packaging will raise between £0.5 billion (US$634m) and £1 billion (US$1.26bn) a year for recycling and disposal.

The strategy will include the introduction of a deposit return scheme (DRS), subject to consultation, to increase the recycling of single-use drinks containers including bottles, cans, and disposable cups filled at the point of sale.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “We welcome the government’s intention to tackle waste. The UK wine and spirit industry has for some years now been working hard – and successfully – to reduce its impact on the environment, for example by shipping in bulk and using less glass in its bottles.”

The trade body said it “remains unconvinced” on the inclusion of glass drinks containers in the DRS, adding that the UK “exceeds EU glass recycling targets”.

According to the WSTA, about 70% of glass packaging is recycled against a target of only 60%. The introduction of DRS for glass drinks containers “flies in the face of this track record – and could undermine achievements to date”.

“Moreover for wine and spirit drinks, the vast majority of which are consumed in the home, there is no evidence to suggest that glass drinks containers are contributing to litter,” said Beale.

Trade body UK Hospitality says that while it supports the new measure, the DRS scheme “must be affordable and proportionate”.

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “New measures are going to hit businesses at a tough time when costs are increasing and consumer confidence is low. Any new scheme, particularly the deposit return scheme, must be workable and avoid piling further financial pressure on businesses.”

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