Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, is considering the introduction of a money back on bottles scheme to help boost recycling, following from Scotland’s commissioned a piece of work to explore the feasibility of improving recycling and reducing littering of drinks container via a deposit return system.
The Minister has welcomed the recent publication of the feasibility study for a Deposit Return System for drinks containers in Scotland, which follows the completion of a number of “Recycle and Reward” pilot projects across Scotland during 2013. (See CIWM Journal Online story)
The feasibility study assessed the benefits and challenges of introducing a scheme and explored the role that it could play in reducing litter, complementing local authority recycling services and improving the quality of materials collected for recycling.
Mark H Durkan – “I have been watching with interest the pilot Deposit Return System (DRS) in Scotland and am keen to see the outcome of their call for evidence of what the practicalities of such a scheme would be and what lessons we can learn here in the north”
The proposed system would accept the broadest range of materials and the suggested deposit would be between 10p and 20p depending on volume. Deposits would be returned manually by retailers or through automated reverse vending machines.
Mark H Durkan said: “A deposit scheme, giving 10p back on bottles, operated here in the past and I think there is the opportunity and appetite for the re-introduction of a similar scheme to reward people who return drink containers and in turn help the environment.
“I have been watching with interest the pilot Deposit Return System (DRS) in Scotland and am keen to see the outcome of their call for evidence of what the practicalities of such a scheme would be and what lessons we can learn here in the north.
“This scheme could play a key role in reducing litter and improving recycling services and I have requested an options paper from my officials on the desirability and feasibility of a DRS for Northern Ireland.”
Across The UK
Scottish Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead, discussed with his UK Government counterpart, Liz Truss, the potential for a deposit return scheme for drinks bottles and cans in England and across the UK at the beginning of June. (See CIWM Journal Online story)
Speaking ahead of his meeting with Truss, Lochhead said: “A scheme like deposit return has the potential to be very beneficial for the environment – reducing litter and boosting the recycling of these materials and their economic value to our communities. As we have seen with carrier bag charging, attaching a value to something can be very effective in helping us make small but important changes.
“Countries such as Germany, Sweden and Norway already have such systems in place, as do parts of Canada, Australia and the United States. I have already made my intentions clear that I am keen to explore the opportunities for Scotland from deposit return and I will be highlighting Zero Waste Scotland’s study to Liz Truss when I meet her on Wednesday, inviting her to do the same in England.
Jane Bickerstaffe, PRGS spokeswoman – “We do not support the introduction of a deposit return system in Scotland and recommend alternative proposals to promote recycling, reduce waste and tackle litter, which we believe will be more effective”
“While in the first instance I am looking at the potential of a Scottish scheme, I believe there are merits in exploring a UK-wide system to identify scope to take advantage of scale and explore common benefits. Already, we are seeing support from environmental groups and members of the public for the idea and I await the additional evidence from industry and stakeholders in due course.”
An opinion poll, conducted for the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) by Survation, found 78.8% of the Scottish public supported a deposit refund system to cover cans and both plastic and glass bottles, while 8.5% opposed it. (See CIWM Journal Online story)
The Packaging Recycling Group Scotland (PRGS), however, has publically opposed the scheme, recommending alternative proposals to promote recycling.
PRGS, whose membership includes AG Barr, Coca-Cola Enterprises and the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF), says alternative proposals, including “existing kerbside and on-the-go recycling schemes that are already working”, offer a more effective solution.
PRGS has pledged to work in partnership with the Scottish Government and others to “significantly boost recycling and tackle littering in Scotland in the next 10 years”.
Jane Bickerstaffe, PRGS spokeswoman, said: “We do not support the introduction of a deposit return system in Scotland and recommend alternative proposals to promote recycling, reduce waste and tackle litter, which we believe will be more effective.
“Scotland has an opportunity to lead the way in increasing recycling and tackling litter by combining the unrivalled knowledge and expertise of our sector, and building on the success of other local and national government initiatives, such as kerbside recycling.”