Plastic Bottle Deposit Scheme Could Pay Out Cash To Reward People For Recycling

Campaigners push for scheme to include all packaging sizes.

We could soon be paid in cash or vouchers to recycle our used bottles and cans, as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced it’s considering introducing a bottle deposit scheme in the UK.

Consumers get through an estimated 14 billion plastic drinks bottles, nine billion drinks cans and five billion glass bottles a year in the UK, according to the government department.

During a 12-week consultation, Defra will consider whether to include all bottles on the scheme, or to restrict it to smaller drinks bottles (less than 750ml) and cans usually drank “on-the-go”.

Greenpeace has advocated for drinks of all sizes to be included, expressing concern that limiting the scheme to smaller bottles would be a “half-baked” idea that would confuse customers.

Sally Anscombe via Getty Images

The consultation is part of wider measures aimed at tackling plastic pollution.

Defra is also considering a tax on plastic packaging that doesn’t contain at least 30% recycled content – and extending the “responsibility” of items to include clothes, homeware and electrical goods producers.

Other measures under consultation include mandatory labelling on all packaging to indicate whether an item is recyclable or not, and making manufacturers pay significantly more towards recycling.

Currently, some companies are required to pay towards the cost of collecting and recycling their packaging, but according to Defra those contributions represent a “fraction of the costs”, with the vast majority borne by local authorities and the tax payer.

Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. That’s why we are leading the way to move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society and drive up domestic recycling.

“Through our plans, we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling.”