Plastic bottle deposit return scheme will start in Britain in 2023

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A deposit return scheme will be introduced in 2023 – part of a range of new measures to protect the environment, the government said.

The government revealed that the scheme was backed by 99 per cent of the 208,000 people who responded to its recent consultation.

Stricter limits on air pollution will also be brought in by 2030 as part of a series of laws that will be part of a new Environment Act to clean up the country.

In other measures, recycling will have to be made more consistent across local authority areas, and food waste collection will be made compulsory.

Campaigners say more must be done, however, and have criticised Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

They say the failure to include larger metal and plastic packaging in the deposit scheme is simply ‘kicking the can down the road’.

The ‘deposit return scheme’ for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, will charge customers a levy on plastic bottles, paid back when returned for recycling, has yet to be finalised.

But the Government said it could apply to containers up to three litres bringing it closer to the ‘all-in’ scheme campaigners want, and which is planned for Scotland, rather than a more limited system which focuses only on smaller, on-the-go bottles and cans.

The Daily Mail has called for a deposit return scheme to cut the tide of plastic pollution in Britain – littering our streets, countryside and beaches.

Environment campaigners were still critical that the government has still not fully committed to allowing larger plastic bottles to form part of the scheme.

The scheme is one of a number of measures to transform waste and recycling in England.

The Government has said it will legislate to ensure that all households have a separate food waste collection by 2023, with kitchen scraps picked up weekly from all homes, including flats.

All English councils will be required to collect the same set of materials for recycling from that time.

That includes glass bottles and jars, paper and card, plastic bottles including drinks and milk containers, detergent, shampoo and cleaning products, plastic pots, tubs and trays and steel and aluminium tins and cans.

Alongside making weekly food waste collections mandatory, the Government said it will consider whether residual rubbish should be collected at least every other week, in the face of some councils moving to three-weekly pickups.

The Government has also said it will ensure producers of packaging bear the full net cost of disposing of it, and encourage more recyclable products.

The Government said it it would be ‘technically feasible’ to meet World Health Organisation guideline limits for the dangerous pollutant fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, by 2030 and would seek make the stricter limits legally enforced.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘We know we must do all we can to protect our precious natural environment.

‘There is a clear need to act to ensure we do not leave this planet to the next generation more polluted, more dangerous and denuded of its natural riches.

‘The measures in our Environment Bill will position the UK as a world leader, ensuring that after EU Exit environmental ambition and accountability are placed more clearly than ever before at the heart of government.’

‘As we have set out today, our plans will improve air quality so that our children live longer, restore habitats and increase biodiversity, strive towards a more circular economy and ensure we can manage our precious water resources in a changing climate.’ 

Sam Chetan-Welsh, political adviser for Greenpeace UK, said: “DEFRA makes clear that 99 per cent of the 208,000 consultation responses supported an all-inclusive deposit return scheme for bottles and cans, covering all sizes and materials. 

‘The public support for this is overwhelming, yet DEFRA has failed to grab this opportunity and commit to an all-in scheme.’

But Tom Fyans, Deputy Chief Executive at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: ‘Michael Gove, having reviewed the evidence, pledged his support for an “all-in” deposit return system for all drinks cans, bottles, cartons and pouches and now the plan to legislate for a system has been confirmed. 

‘All we need now to see this transformational solution to litter in the countryside over the line is the government to follow the ambition that Mr Gove and the Scottish Government have set.’

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