MPs begin inquiry into future DRS

The Environment Audit Committee has launched an inquiry into the introduction of deposit return schemes (DRS) in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The cross-party committee will focus on the final design of a DRS system and the type of waste and materials to be collected.

Beverage containersA DRS will involve a small deposit being added to the price of a product, which is refunded to the consumer when they return the waste to an in-store collection point for it to be recycled.

Around 40 countries currently have a DRS in place, with the majority focused on drinks containers.

Deposit return schemes are considered to be effective methods of increasing consumer recycling habits, with the plastic drinks bottle scheme in Norway said to have led to 95 per cent of those items being recycled.

DRS operate either as ‘all-in’ models, which are designed to target a large number of containers irrespective of material and size, or as ‘on-the-go’ models, which limit the containers to be recycled to a smaller range of sizes.

Last August, a cross-party group of MPs wrote to the Prime Minister to show support for an all-in DRS system.

The Government has previously said it is committed to introducing a DRS to England in 2023.

Speaking at the launch of the inquiry, Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said: "The introduction of a deposit return scheme is eagerly awaited.

"Our committee is keen to help frame the scheme to ensure it increases recycling and reduces waste, without creating unintended consequences which could undermine the need to minimise the environmental impact of what we consume.

"I urge those interested in both policy and practical aspects of the scheme to let us know your views."

Last April, a poll conducted by Populus found that 84 per cent of the British public support the implementation of an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme.

The Scottish Government has already approved regulations that will establish an all-in DRS across Scotland.

The system will see a 20-pence cash deposit placed on all drinks containers made from aluminium and steel, glass, or PET plastic that are above 50 millilitres and up to three litres in size.

The deposit will be refunded to the customer when the container is returned to a collection point.

The introduction of the deposit return scheme across Scotland is currently scheduled for July 2022, after being delayed from later this year due to coronavirus.

Although the responsibility for DRS legislation falls on devolved governments, it is currently anticipated that the Government will work to roll out any future DRS across Wales and Northern Ireland too.