DRS should be ‘deferred’, says LARAC

A deposit return scheme (DRS) should be ‘deferred’ until policies on extended producer responsibility (EPR) and consistency in collections have been set into motion, according to a statement from the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC).

The latest government consultation on a DRS for England closed on 4 June, and invited industry to respond to the initial proposed models for a DRS.

LARAC has responded to the consultation by stating that a DRS should be delayed until policies on EPR and consistency in collections have been implemented and have had a chance to work.

LARAC has also stated that a further benefit of postponing the DRS will be allowing proper research into a digital DRS (DDRS) in the UK, as well as understanding the full impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic might have on the operation of a DRS.

Carole Taylor, Chair LARAC, said “The case for deferring a DRS is stronger now than it has even been. The Consistency and EPR proposals are saying they will improve material quality and so a DRS using digital technology and kerbside collections makes perfect sense.

“Further trials and research need to be done so we can see how a digital DRS system can be made to work.

“A DRS based on RVMs is costly and is mostly just displacing existing recycling from efficient kerbside systems to an expensive network of RVMs, which would have been redundant during the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

LARAC has stated that if plans for a reverse vending machine (RVM) DRS are to go ahead in 2024, it would want to see an “on the go” scheme implemented, as this will have a bigger impact on reducing litter and be less disruptive for the current kerbside collections.

However, it has emphasised that more research into a digital DRS solution utilising the existing kerbside and bring-back collection infrastructure is favourable to its members, compared to going forward with a RVM DRS.

British Glass released a statement on the impact of a DRS on glass recycling, raising concerns in its consultation response that the scheme might increase carbon emissions and ‘incentivise an increase in plastic consumption at the expense of glass’.

Furthermore, the Digital DRS Industry Working Group recently launched a report forecasting significant savings if a DDRS were implemented, produced by consultancy Resource Futures.