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Govt opens DRS consultation and announces delay of scheme

Published:  25 March, 2021

The government has launched its second consultation into a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

In addition, it also announced a delay to the implementation of a DRS for those countries until late 2024 at the earliest. 

Defra said government remained committed to delivering on its commitments to introduce a DRS, but also recognised that the pandemic has disrupted the economy and society in “unimaginable ways”.

On this basis, it said the second consultation would build on the first consultation, offering a chance to explore further what the continued appetite was for a DRS in a ‘post-Covid’ context. 

The second consultation would also inform how a future scheme could be designed in the “best and most coherent way possible” to deliver on the objectives set out for introducing such a policy, it added.

With this in mind, Defra said it had had to reassess what a “realistic timeline” for implementation of a DRS looked like, ensuring that sufficient time was given for a successful roll-out of the scheme. 

Welcoming the consultation, Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA, said: “The WSTA is committed to helping its members do all they can to reduce waste and improve packaging recycling. Its members will play a full part in this consultation to help provide government with the best industry knowledge to make this recycling initiative both efficient and effective.” 

The WSTA, which has consistently expressed doubts that DRS for glass is the best and most cost-effective mechanism to improve packaging recycling, was pleased to see that the UK government had been listening and “may consider taking larger bottles out of scope”, he added. 

“Including all glass in a DRS is likely to encourage the use of more polluting plastic packaging. This seems crazy when the evidence shows that, for larger glass bottles, kerbside recycling achieves a much higher collection rate,” he said.