Last week, I attended a conference all about “food waste reduction and new initiatives for reducing plastic packaging waste” and the room was abuzz with news that Michael Gove was that day going to make an announcement on Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).
Well he did, kind of…
From what I can gather, from sources such as Environment Journal, Mr Gove “outlined his personal support for an ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme … which would cover drinks containers of all sizes and materials including aluminium cans, glass and plastic bottles, and paper cartons.”
This is significant as it does indicate direction of travel, showing for example, a preference for a scheme that covers “all” as opposed to “on-the-go” drinks containers only.
This is presumably based on Defra’s research that found that a comprehensive DRS would save the Treasury, local councils and taxpayers up to £2m over ten years, compared to £250m with the ‘on-the-go’ option. (These savings coming from a reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill, lower clean-up costs for litter, reduced air and water pollution, and fewer carbon emissions caused by the materials used to produce the containers).
The devil will be in the detail (as I think one presenter at the conference did say on this very matter). For example, will the deposit be added by volume or by item? To paraphrase Michael Arsand, Sustainability Manager, UK and Nordics, Ball Beverage Packing Europe who spoke at the conference on DRS and Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP) legislators should be aware of unintended consequences – when he compared the impact on consumer purchase price, gross of deposit, of a multi-pack item such as Coke/ Pepsi sold in eight cans or four plastic bottles where the deposit would disproportionately favour the plastic bottles if levied per item – leading potentially to greater plastic bottle sales?
I will keep my eyes and ears open for further, tangible, announcements on a DRS, as I am sure will our food and drink sector clients who may be impacted if part of a direct supply chain.