YouGov research shows variable DRS ‘easy to understand’

New research released yesterday (18 March) and commissioned by Alupro disproves the assertion that a variable rate deposit return scheme (DRS) would be too complex for customers in the UK.

The YouGov survey reveals that 85 per cent of Brits deem a variable rate system ‘easy to understand’, with 61 per cent of respondents supporting higher deposits for larger containers.

Aluminium cans2,000 adults across Britain were questioned about the best DRS design, and as to whether a variable rate deposit fee would cause confusion.

The results of the survey firmly contradict government research conducted in 2019, which claimed that a variable rate would be too ‘complex’ for householders.

Rather, more than four in five respondents suggested that the concept of a DRS was easy to grasp (84 per cent) and that the idea of varying the deposit value based on container size was ‘equally simplistic’ (85 per cent).

Over half of adults (55 per cent) agreed that the deposit fee should be lower for smaller items, and higher for larger ones.

Three in 10 (30 per cent) thought that the deposit amount should be the same across all sizes of packaging. A minority of respondents said they were undecided (15 per cent).

This research comes before the UK Government’s expected DRS roll-out across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2023.

Scotland is set to launch its own DRS in 2022. This initiative would see a small deposit placed on drinks containers, which can be redeemed when the customer returns the empty container to a designated collection point.

Discussion concerning best practice on the DRS roll-out is underway. A variable fee would see the deposit differ according to container size, whereas a flat rate model would apply a fixed fee to all containers.

According to Alupro, a variable fee approach could see customers pay an additional £4.80 for a 24-can multipack (on top of the product purchase price), in comparison to just 80p for a 2-litre plastic bottle.

The Scottish Government has established that it will introduce a flat fee system. Zero Waste Scotland comments that this will ‘give people a clear incentive to return all their empty bottles and cans, regardless of size’.

Rick Hindley, Executive Director at Alupro, commented: “Adopting best practice design from the outset will prove pivotal to the long-term success of England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s deposit return scheme.

“Our independent research aimed to analyse real-world views regarding awareness of DRS design and understanding of deposit fees. According to the results, it’s safe to say that now, more than ever, householders want the best solution for the future – not the cheapest or the fastest.

“As the government discusses the design of our national scheme, we implore senior decision makers to take these findings into close consideration and not to choose simplicity over sustainability.

“The success of the scheme is important for every household, so we’re calling for their views to be recognised.”