They bottled: Fury as a returnable plastic bottle return postponed for three years as ministers blame Covid pandemic
- Deposit scheme to encourage bottle recycling has been postponed to 2024
- The government said plans would go ahead but would consult “ persistent appetite. ”
- Ministers claim the delay is due to Covid, but it has appalled environmental groups
Environmentalists yesterday accused ministers of evading responsibility after plans to increase bottle recycling were postponed.
A deposit scheme to encourage British to return bottles, cans and other containers has been reverted to 2024.
The government insisted the plans go ahead but also said it would confer on the “ lingering appetite ” for the settlement after the coronavirus pandemic.
Ministers claim the delay is due to Covid-19, but it has appalled environmental groups, who called for urgent action. Similar schemes are already working successfully in Europe and the UK is under pressure to catch up before hosting the Cop26 UN climate conference later this year.
A deposit scheme to encourage British to return bottles, cans and other containers has been reverted to 2024 (stock image)
In 2018, then-environmental secretary Michael Gove said there were plans to introduce a deposit guarantee scheme (DRS) as early as 2020. A year later, the government promised it would be introduced for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2023.
But according to a consultation for the program published yesterday, the scheme will not be implemented until 2024 at the earliest.
Environment Secretary Rebecca Pow faced anger from MPs in the environmental audit committee over the delay.
Yesterday she told them, ‘Originally we were supposed to aim for 2023, but we have been hit by the pandemic and this last year has been a rather unusual year that has affected the way offices and everything operate others.
In 2018, then-environmental secretary Michael Gove said there were plans to introduce a deposit-return scheme (DRS) as early as 2020.
‘The timeline will probably shift to 2024, because with the best will in the world, measures are mentioned that make setting up the DRS possible in the Environmental Act. [which], because of the pandemic, has been delayed and delayed. ‘
But campaigners said Covid should not be used as an excuse, claiming it was “ shameful ” that the UK was lagging behind other countries.
Tom Fyans of CPRE, the rural charity, said the public wanted to see action against the waste crisis. “New research shows that about eight billion beverage containers are landfilled, littered or incinerated every year,” he said.
Despite all of this, the government appears to be delaying a deposit-return scheme until the end of 2024 – essentially withdrawing its responsibility and waiting for a new government to show some leadership on the matter.
Sam Chetan-Welsh, Greenpeace political campaigner, said it was “shameful” to take years to implement such a plan, which other countries have been pursuing for decades.
“This is not the action of a government that is serious about tackling plastic pollution, and is nowhere near a global leader,” he said.
“Even more delay means billions more plastic and glass bottles and cans are being dumped or incinerated.”
Friends of the Earth campaigner Camilla Zerr said: “ The deposit scheme will encourage recycling, reduce waste and help reduce the flow of plastic pollution flowing into our environment, so there is no justification for delaying it.
‘Ministers must be strongly opposed to industry lobbying, because the deposit scheme is urgently needed. The government shouldn’t be bottling it now. ‘
The Daily Mail has long been calling for new measures to encourage recycling through its Turn The Tide On Plastic campaign.
Environment Minister George Eustice said, “We are transforming the way we handle waste through our world-leading environmental legislation.”
He said the new changes would ensure that more of what people consume is recycled and reused.
Latte levy to help companies recycle cups
According to government plans, customers will be faced with paying a ‘latte tax’ on their coffee under a new recycling tax.
Ministers launched a consultation yesterday on plans to introduce recycling targets for coffee cups and to make producers pay the costs of recycling packaging.
It would mean that materials that are difficult to recycle, such as those used in coffee cups, would cost more and businesses would have to pass the cost on to consumers.
The document emphasizes that there is limited recycling of coffee cups and other take-away packaging because the costs are too high. Ministers say there is ‘little economic incentive’ to recycle the packaging.
They have yet to decide how much will be added to the cost of a cup of coffee under the new tax. “There is support to apply a target to other types of fiber-based composite packaging that are also more difficult to recycle,” said the consultation.
‘The government is therefore proposing to introduce recycling targets for a new category of packaging.’
Think of disposable cups, sandwich boxes and food and drink cartons.