GS1 UK calls for simplicity ahead of DRS

Data body GS1 UK has conducted a poll on 2,000 adults to gauge consumer awareness and attitudes ahead of the upcoming implementation of a deposit return scheme (DRS). The results show that 16 per cent of respondents do not recycle, citing a lack of knowledge about what can and cannot be recycled as the most common reason.

DRSThe poll also found that 34 per cent of adults surveyed believe that recycling is overly complicated, while 45 per cent think that simplicity would be the most important aspect if the recycling system was to be redesigned.

GS1 UK is an independent body which ensures standardisation to help their clients achieve efficiency in a digital world. Their clients include those in industries such as packaged goods, apparel, healthcare and fresh foods.

This comes ahead of plans for a DRS in the UK. The scheme is designed to encourage recycling by charging a deposit on drinks containers, which is then refunded when items are returned to a collection point. In the UK, all four nations have announced a goal to introduce a DRS by 2025. The Scottish scheme is due to start next year.

According to the GS1 poll, 42 per cent of respondents did not understand the DRS, while 26 per cent had not heard of the scheme. After the DRS was explained, 60 per cent of the adults surveyed said the return of a deposit would make them more likely to buy products included in the scheme.

From the results of the poll, GS1 UK has called for an approach that delivers simplicity, convenience and ease of use for both the consumers and the industry. The four nations are yet to decide their respective rules and regulations for the scheme.

Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer of GS1 UK, said: “There’s no doubt that the introduction of deposit return schemes can be a positive step forward, but the needs of consumers need to be carefully factored into their design if they are to have a meaningful impact.

“Our research has shown a little incentive can go a long way to encourage people to do the right thing and recycle more. The operational impact for businesses, compounded by the lack of awareness, means there are significant challenges that will need to be addressed in the next two years.”

Nadiya Catel-Arutyunova, policy advisor for the British Retail Consortium, said: “A well-designed DRS can bring us one step closer to creating a circular economy and the retail industry is working tirelessly to make it happen.

“A successful scheme needs to be simple and straightforward for shoppers if we are to change recycling behaviours. It also needs informed consumers, which is why we back calls for greater awareness raising from UK governments and deposit management organisations, to ensure customers know exactly how to return their containers and redeem their deposits.”