Broad welcome for DRS delay

Industry has welcomed the news that the UK government and devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have confirmed that Deposit Return Schemes will be launched across the UK in October 2027. There will be three separate schemes: one covering England and Northern Ireland, and others in each of Scotland and Wales.

Karen Betts, CEO, Food and Drink Federation said the trade body welcome today’s confirmation that the UK will be putting a Deposit Return Scheme in place as part of plans for a circular economy.

“This means that drinks containers will be able to be recycled and used again more efficiently and easily, which is good news for the environment, companies and consumers,” she noted, adding: “It’s critical that the UK’s governments now work closely together to ensure the scheme is easy to use and understand, operating under the same rules and with the same labels across the four nations. A consistent, UK-wide approach is the best way to ensure value for money and to drive up the UK’s disappointing recycling rates.”

The update has also confirmed that hospitality will no longer be required to act as a return point, but venues can voluntarily host a return point. This is a significant victory for the sector and was a key ask of UKHospitality, due to the cost and complexity involved, it argued.

Paul Graham, managing director, Great Britain, Britvic said the company has long advocated for an aligned, well-designed deposit return scheme in the UK because it believes it can deliver a truly circular economy, and ensure that great packaging never becomes waste.

“This announcement takes us closer to achieving this goal. We encourage everyone to play their part in building on this progress towards a fully interoperable scheme, so that collectively we can finally maximise the environmental benefits of DRS in the UK,” Graham added

Dusan Stojankic, Coca-Cola, vice-president, Great Britain and Ireland said Coca-Cola wants to recycle every single can and bottle that goes onto the market and the announcement is a huge step towards the well-designed deposit return schemes that will help us achieve just that.

“To make sure DRS is a success, we must have truly interoperable schemes in place across England, Scotland and Wales,” Stojankic explained. “We call on all parties and governments to work together to ensure that the schemes move forward with pace and with consistency of materials in scope. Having a common approach will ensure we have a best-in class system in place – and is the only way we will improve the circular economy and cut litter.”

Carol Robert, chief operating officer, Suntory Beverage & Food Great Britain and Ireland noted that the rest of Europe has moved with the times to create a circular economy for drinks containers, so it’s only right that the stopwatch starts again in the UK’s race to build an effective Deposit Return Scheme.

Robert continued: “As well as long term benefits such as reduced litter and increased recycling rates, a DRS is also a critical step for businesses, and the UK, to achieve net zero. We’ve seen a positive start for Ireland’s DRS and it is now essential that we work on an interoperable UK-wide approach with detailed, prescriptive and consistent DRS regulations. SBF GB&I has been poised on the starting line and we’re ready to give our full backing to make DRS a reality and a contributor to our goal of achieving 100% sustainable packaging by 2030.”

Gemma Morgan, category director beverages – Danone UK & Ireland, said: “A DRS helps keep plastic out of nature, increase recycling rates and achieve circularity targets. It is currently challenging to get the quality and quantity of recycled material we need here in the UK, and we believe a DRS would significantly improve this. Danone UK & Ireland is ready to work with industry and government to achieve a unified scheme that can be implemented to the new timeline and prevent any further delays.”

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