Dawn To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will assess the merits of introducing a deposit return system for single-use drinks containers in England.
Answered by Rory Stewart, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs)
I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Birmingham Hall Green, Roger Godsiff, on 11 April 2016, PQ UIN32607.
Defra analysed the costs and benefits of implementing a deposit return system (DRS) for single use drink containers as part of the 2011 Review of Waste Policy in England, and sought views in the 2012 consultation on higher packaging recycling targets.
This work showed that introducing a DRS may increase recycling and reduce litter but might impose additional costs on businesses, consumers and local authorities (which would lose revenue from recycling). However, we lack evidence to quantify these benefits and costs appropriately. The current approach has driven a significant increase in packaging waste recycling rates, from less than 47% in 2003 to nearly 65% in 2013.
Last year, the Scottish Government published a feasibility study and a call for evidence investigating the implementation of a DRS for single use drink containers in Scotland. This valuable work highlighted significant uncertainties regarding the impacts and benefits that a DRS would have, notably regarding costs, environmental quality and littering, and existing waste collection systems. The Scottish Government is doing further work on the topic and we will review any new evidence arising from this in due course. However, in the meantime, we will continue to focus on improving existing waste collection and recycling systems, and developing a new National Litter Strategy for England to help coordinate and maximise the impact of anti-litter activity by local government, industry and others.