UK DRS likely to be delayed until 2027 and not include glass

Appearing before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, Secretary of State, Steve Barclay, said that the original timetable to introduce a deposit scheme for England by 2025 was ’not realistic’

Environment Secretary, Steve Barclay, discusses implementation of a UK deposit return scheme with the EFRA Committee
Environment Secretary, Steve Barclay, discusses implementation of a UK deposit return scheme with the EFRA Committee
Addressing MPs, Barclay laid out the government's current stance and projected timeline for the implementation of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) across the UK.

Speaking to Rt Hon. Philip Dunne MP, Barclay addressed the complexities and challenges in rolling out the DRS, advocating the value of creating a system that could be applied across the UK and stressing the potential business frustrations that could arise from differing schemes across the nation's regions: "As a Unionist, one of the things that has been very important to me is that we have an approach that is interoperable across the UK."

Making the case for a joint approach he added: "55 per cent of litter falls within the DRS. This is a high-quality product that can be recycled, [so] the importance of policy is there. And that's why we've been working so closely with the Devolved Administrations on it."

However, in addressing the delays facing the DRS's rollout, Barclay conceded that a 2025 deadline is now "not realistic," with a 2027 launch seeming "more likely."

On balancing the scheme's benefits with the need for it to be consistent across the four nations, he said: "I think, given this balance between the benefits of the scheme versus the benefits of having something interoperable, I don't think 2025 is now realistic, and certainly, businesses wouldn’t view it as a realistic deadline.”

Glass and a UK-wide Deposit Return Scheme

Responding to Dunne, Barclay touched upon the contentious issue of including glass in the DRS, a factor that has notably impacted the Scottish scheme and is currently being considered by Wales. The UK Government's stance appears firm on encouraging interoperability, potentially using mechanisms under the UK Internal Market Act to ensure consistency across the country.

Notably he indicated use of the Internal Markets Act would extend to the Welsh Government's proposal to include glass in their scheme, thereby indicating that as it stands glass will not feature in a UK-wide DRS.

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