Kicking the can down the road!

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By Debbie McConnell
9th June 2021

A deposit return scheme could make a real difference to littering across rural and urban areas. It’s a no-brainer – so why the delay?

For years CPRE has been campaigning for a Deposit Return System (DRS) for ALL bottles and cans. People are keen to see much more being done to tackle waste. Over three-quarters of the English public (78%) agree that the government should be taking more action on litter. The photo below shows a carpet dumped on a wall in the AONB of the Forest of Bowland. In 2018 the government announced it would introduce a DRS – a start on tackling the litter culture.

fly tipped carpet in the Forest of Bowland AONB | Debbie McConnell

But now the government plans to delay the scheme until 2024 – pushing the responsibility onto a new government. A DRS in use and seeing huge recycling rates in other countries should have formed a key cornerstone of a green recovery following the pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic has left the country with an ailing economy – and bringing in a DRS was an opportunity to address this. The introduction of the new system should have formed an essential part of a green recovery, creating jobs in areas that need them.

We know that a DRS can increase recycling rates of plastic, glass and metal drinks containers to more than 90%. Now was the time to kick into gear with this next step, with lockdown reminding us of the perils of our throwaway culture and England’s broken waste and litter systems. Around 8 billion drink containers are landfilled, littered or burnt every year.

At present local councils spend millions each year cleaning up and disposing of littered containers – money that a DRS could save them, easing their financial burden at a time when funds are tight.

In fact, the government’s own analysis showed that an “all-in”  system- all sizes of container can be returned – could create £2 billion for the UK economy through job creation, environmental benefits and cost savings from reduced waste.

The timing of this further delay is especially frustrating given that 2021 sees the UK hosting the COP26 global climate change conference and with this, the Prime Minister had called for ‘a year of climate action’Boris Johnson’s own claims that the UK would become ‘a global leader’ are undermined by the six-year hiatus on a DRS.

GreenpeaceSurfers Against SewageKeep Britain Tidy and The Marine Conservation Society are all campaigning with us to ask the government to think again. You may already have signed our petition or written to your MP. If not please add your voice and make a difference!

Sign our petition

Sorting litter Bill Waters
Quernmore landscape