The Government has failed to make progress on deciding whether to introduce a deposit return scheme and is instead “kicking it into the long grass” according to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC).

Plastic Bottles: Turning Back the Plastic Tide was published by the EAC in December 2017 and called for the Government to force retailers take back plastic bottles as part of a deposit return scheme.

The government said it would make a decision as part of a Treasury consultation on introducing a new tax on single use plastics including drinks bottles. Three months later the consultation is yet to begin.

EAC chair and MP Mary Creagh said the Treasury was “dragging its feet” and added “The Government needs to take decisive action on this important issue instead of kicking it into the long grass."

Creagh said plans for free tap water to reduce bottled water sales had also been delayed.

ACS CEO James Lowman described the planned consultation stating: "We welcome the measured approach to this complex issue. We remain concerned about the retail impact of a deposit return scheme which is unproven in the UK as a way to increase recycling rates, but will impose significant time, space and cost burdens on the convenience sector.”

Speaking in Parliament last week, NFRN president Linda Sood said: “We welcome the introduction of a bottle return scheme but it is critical an industry solution must be found that is acceptable to all.”

Separate plans by the Welsh and Scottish Governments to introduce their own deposit return schemes are unaffected by the UK parliament delay.