Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced plans to introduce an English deposit return scheme at the Conservative Party Conference.
Speaking at the main stage of the conference, Gove stated: “We are looking to go further to reduce plastic waste by working with industry to see how we could introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles.”
He stated DRS had “already seen great success in other countries such as Denmark” in curbing plastic pollution.” However, research by Retail Express shows the majority of trade groups in countries with DRS in place say it harms small format stores.
The Department for Environmental and Rural Affairs simultaneously announced a call for evidence regarding DRS in England.
The Scottish government recently decided to commit to a deposit return scheme despite not yet having the evidence of how it would work. The Welsh government has also said it would be introducing DRS.
Explaining why DRS is needed in the UK, DEFRA said only 57% of plastic bottles are currently recycled in the UK.
The decision to an English deposit return scheme is likely to be unpopular with convenience retailers, the majority of which oppose the system. Gove previously said any DRS implementation would need the “enthusiastic embrace” of retailers.
Gaurave Sood from Neelam Convenience Store and Post Office outlined his position on the announcement stating: “The green (environmental) ideology and justifications behind it are perfect and from that point of view we fully support the scheme.
“From a commercial point of view we personally would struggle to deal with it, reasons being we do not have an army of staff with extra time nor the space.”
Following Gove’s announcement the ACS has restated its opposition to DRS. CEO James Lowman said he had “concerns about any measures that would have a negative impact on retailers whilst being unproven as a way of increasing recycling rates in the UK.”
He continued: “Introducing a deposit return scheme would have a significant impact on the convenience sector, costing stores money, reducing the amount of space in stores and causing delays at the till for those who would have to manage the scheme manually.”
The ACS said it would be taking part in DEFRA’s call for evidence regarding the English deposit return scheme. The call for evidence lasts four weeks and similiar to Scotland’s earlier this year, is likely to feature the ACS, Federation of Wholesale Distributors and British Soft Drinks Association