Deposit Return Scheme: delaying until 2028 ‘makes a mockery’ of UK government

Work on the government’s problematic Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) has been “halted”, with the project currently expected to be delayed until 2028, ten years after it was first announced.

Work on the project – which would see consumers being able to claim back a 20p charge when they return bottles and cans for recycling – has all but stopped, according to reports from i newspaper.

Initially announced by Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2018 and scheduled to begin in October 2023, the start date of the DRS had already been pushed back to 2026 due to the cost of living crisis.

The latest delay – which comes as a result of disagreements between the Scottish, British and Welsh governments over whether the scheme should include glass containers as well as plastic – is likely to mean the UK’s Deposit Return Scheme will not be implemented for at least another four years.

Environmental campaigners and industry insiders have responded to the news, with one source telling i that the delays were “baffling”, pointing out that other countries had announced and implemented similar policies within a two-year period.

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“In Ireland, a deposit return scheme basically identical to the UK’s was announced in late 2022, and became operational this month. Meanwhile, the UK is about to announce a delay longer than the period of time it took Ireland to launch their entire scheme,” they said.

Greenpeace UK political campaigner Rudy Schulkind said further delays would “make a mockery” of the UK government and its claim to be a “world leader on plastic action”.

“Our neighbours in Europe have been running Deposit Return Schemes successfully for years, they are a popular and incredibly important tool in addressing plastic pollution,” he added.

“Sadly, this government is all too willing to sacrifice bold action to tackle the climate crisis at the altar of vested interests. 2024 is a once in a generation opportunity to finally secure a bold global treaty to radically reduce plastic production at source.

“Yet another delay sends precisely the opposite signal to what is needed from the UK at a point in the negotiations where high ambition and leadership by example is critical.”

Surfers Against Sewage director of campaigns and communities Dani Jordan said the government is “brazenly kicking the can down the road”.

“Every year of delay to the Deposit Return Scheme will see at least another 8 billion containers leaching into the environment, choking our rivers and seas. It’s time the government stopped pandering to the industry lobbyists and took a stand for people and planet.”

A Defra spokesperson said the government was “pushing ahead” with its programme of reforms to reduce waste and “remains committed” to its goal of eliminating avoidable waste by 2050, although they did not deny the DRS was facing new delays.

“It’s essential that we work closely with industry to make sure our reforms will be a success, and we will continue to engage with businesses closely as we proceed with introducing the deposit return scheme,” they added.

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • The scheme in Holland works perfectly well and has been in place since 2022 – on a recent visit to Amsterdam I was not surprised how accepted it has been across the country,


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