Resource Use

Nordic poll shows support for variable DRS model

A series of polls covering Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway have found overwhelming public support for the Nordic deposit return scheme (DRS) model, with at least 97 per cent of respondents agreeing that their respective DRS is easy to use and understand.

An image of a reverse vending machine

The Norstat polls, which surveyed over 1,000 members of the public in each of the four countries, asked respondents whether they support the Nordic ‘variable’ model, where a varying deposit is levied on drinks containers based on their size and material, rather than a single flat-rate.

87 per cent of Finnish respondents agreed that this model was fairer for shoppers, whilst 81 per cent in Sweden, 78 per cent in Norway and 70 per cent in Denmark agreed.

The Nordic countries have recorded rising recycling rates since implementing their DRS, with Denmark achieving a bottle and can recycling rate of 90 per cent.

The polls were commissioned by Nature 2030 – an international coalition of businesses, politicians and activists working in cooperation to tackle environmental challenges such as plastic pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change.


In light of the poll’s findings, campaigners have urged the UK Government to implement a variable DRS, arguing that a flat-rate deposit would increase the use of single-use plastic by incentivising consumers to purchase large two-litre PET plastic bottles, as a flat deposit would represent a substantial percentage increase on the price of small drinks containers compared to larger options.

Dr Sharon George, course director for Environmental Sustainability and Green Technology at Keele University, said: “The survey results show the variable model used in the Nordics has stood the test of time.

“There’s a huge opportunity for the UK Government to take the lead and innovate using tried-and-tested deposit return models to make Britain’s future scheme as effective as possible for the planet and consumer.”

The UK Government has committed to introducing a DRS across England and Wales by 2023, though the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is yet to confirm which model will be used.

In Scotland, an ‘all-in’ DRS will be rolled out from April 2021, with a 20 pence deposit set to be placed on drinks containers made from aluminium, steel, glass and PET plastic – a flat-rate system rather than the variable Nordic fee.

Read more: DRS – a whole can of worms

The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) has raised concerns with the flat-rate model, warning that attaching the same deposit fee to containers of all sizes and materials could encourage consumers to choose larger plastic bottles, which would inadvertently contribute to plastic pollution.

Zero Waste Scotland, on the other hand, has claimed that Scotland’s DRS will have a positive impact on plastic pollution, estimating that the upcoming scheme will result in almost 31,000 fewer plastic bottles littered in Scotland each day, with a 90 per cent overall reduction in litter.

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