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Written Statements

Volume 748: debated on Thursday 25 April 2024

Written Statements

Thursday 25 April 2024

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Deposit Return Scheme for Drinks Containers

Today, I am updating colleagues on our progress to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers. The Government are committed to delivering a world-class scheme and will bring forth legislation to progress this as soon as possible when parliamentary time allows.

DRS is a well-established international model, with nearly 60 schemes due to be in operation by the end of 2024. A redeemable deposit is placed on single-use drinks containers, which is refunded upon return of the empty container. The deposit provides a financial incentive for consumers to return empty drinks containers for recycling. We will continue to prioritise reducing inflation and supporting families with the cost of living as the DRS is taken forward and we will consider the appointed deposit management organisation’s approach to setting deposit levels. The DRS will boost recycling levels, reduce the littering of in-scope drinks containers, and turbocharge our transition to a circular economy.

The UK Government have consulted twice—alongside the Northern Ireland Executive and Welsh Government —on the introduction of a DRS: first in 2019 and again in 2021, with the latest Government response published in January 2023. Since then, my officials have been working closely with their devolved Administration counterparts on the steps needed to achieve interoperable schemes that work across the UK.

Extensive engagement has been undertaken to explore various proposals and identify compromises. Together, we have successfully reached alignment on: joint registration and reporting, labelling, reciprocal returns, deposit level, minimum container size, and low volume sales.

There is an outstanding issue regarding the scope of materials in DRS. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland and the UK Government agree that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles, steel and aluminium cans will be included in our DRS, and that glass drink containers will be excluded when the scheme launches. The Scottish Government have agreed to commence DRS in Scotland on this same basis to ensure the schemes move forward.

It remains my view that including glass in any UK DRS will create undue complexity for the drinks industry and it increases storage and handling costs for retailers. Glass containers are heavy and fragile, making them more difficult for consumers to return and receive the deposit they have paid, potentially forcing up the cost of their shopping. Moreover, glass is littered less: the Keep Britain Tidy litter composition analysis of 2020 presented that 55% of litter was from PET plastic and metal drinks containers, compared to just 4% from glass drinks containers. We want to work with industry on an ambitious re-use and refill initiative and will provide further detail shortly.

The Welsh Government are taking a different approach: they intend to include glass when their scheme launches. We will continue our conversations with Welsh Government, but if their position does not change, we will reiterate the duty to protect the UK internal market and facilitate free trade within the UK so that businesses can continue trading unhindered across the UK and ensure better prices and choice for consumers, particularly in the context of the current cost of living pressures. There are no plans to exclude any DRS from the UK Internal Market Act 2020 (UKIM) now that there is maximum possible alignment and interoperability across the UK to protect businesses and consumers. However, any application for an exclusion would be considered on the evidence presented.

As it stands, when our DRS launches, businesses and consumers will be protected by the market access principles of the UKIM Act for the sale of drinks in glass bottles across the UK. In plain terms, this means that drinks in glass containers made or imported into England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be subject to a Welsh DRS which includes glass.

As stated in the consultation response published in January 2023, launching a DRS in October 2025 was a stretching target date. Following extensive engagement with industry, who will be responsible for delivering the DRS, and a review of international approaches to DRS implementation, additional time will be needed to efficiently and effectively roll out the schemes across the UK. With the agreement of Ministerial colleagues across the devolved Administrations, the DRS will go live in October 2027. Until then, we are committed to engaging with industry and working with a deposit management organisation candidate(s) to finalise the next steps towards DRS implementation.

We will continue to work with industry, our colleagues in the devolved Administrations, and other relevant stakeholders to deliver a DRS across the UK that works for businesses, communities, and consumers.


Home Department

UK-Rwanda Partnership

The Government today laid a statutory statement, in line with section 20(8) of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, confirming its intention to ratify the UK-Rwanda agreement on an asylum partnership (the treaty). The treaty will be ratified today.

The UK Government and the Government of Rwanda have worked together to ensure that all the necessary measures are in place, such that the parties are able to meet their obligations as and when they arise, to proceed with ratification of the treaty.

This work has included:

The passing by the Government of Rwanda of their own domestic legislation to ratify the treaty and to amend their asylum system to reflect new case-working and appeals processes. These measures will help address the Supreme Court’s conclusions on the effectiveness of the Rwandan asylum system and will help build capacity and capability.

Identifying a Rwandan and a Commonwealth co-president to head up the new appeals body, which was introduced under the treaty to address the points raised by the Supreme Court about the independence of the Rwandan judiciary, and to ensure that the final determination of a refugee claim is independent and objective. The co-presidents will work together to ensure the selection of appropriate judges, on the drafting of procedural rules, and on the delivery of effective and appropriate training for new judges.

Progressing the identification of an independent expert to the new appeal body, and of potential experts to support the functioning of casework and to ensure high-quality decision-making.

Creating an independent monitoring committee, which will monitor the operation of the treaty.

Commencing the procurement exercise for the monitoring committee support team, which will be in place prior to a first flight.

Implementing an initial system to monitor the location of relocated individuals, with their consent, to ensure they are safe and that refoulement contrary to the terms of the treaty has not occurred.

Developing and agreeing with the Government of Rwanda a range of standard operating procedures detailing how the provisions under the treaty will be delivered in practice. This includes processes for safeguarding vulnerable individuals and accessing the comprehensive medical support package available to relocated individuals.

I am grateful to the Government of Rwanda for their work in implementing the treaty to ensure those relocated will be offered safety and security.

In line with our obligations under the refugee convention and the European convention on human rights, the treaty, which is binding in international law, addresses the Supreme Court’s conclusions by making it clear that refoulement will not occur. The treaty ensures that those relocated: will be safe; will be fully supported for five years; will not be removed to a third country; and will have their asylum claims processed fairly; and that those who are not granted refugee status or humanitarian protection will get equivalent treatment and will be granted permanent residence.

The assurances in the treaty, alongside ongoing work to strengthen Rwanda’s asylum system and operational readiness since the evidential position considered by the courts in summer 2022, are sufficient to conclude that Rwanda is safe for relocated individuals. In passing the Safety of Rwanda Act, which received Royal Assent today, 25 April 2024, Parliament has reached the same conclusion.

The Act will come into force upon the ratification of the treaty. Decision makers will be required to treat Rwanda as a generally safe country for the purpose of relocating individuals. The Act does allow decision makers and the courts and tribunals to consider claims that Rwanda is unsafe for an individual person due to their particular circumstances, despite the safeguards in the treaty, if there is compelling evidence to that effect. But an individual claim is not permitted on grounds that Rwanda may remove the person to another state in contravention of any of its international obligations. The treaty has removed this risk.

Parliament is sovereign. Individuals with no legal right to be in the UK should no longer be able to frustrate removal through spurious legal challenges.

Despite the progress we have made in tackling illegal migration, we must go further. To fully solve this problem, we need a strong deterrent. Only by removing the prospect that illegal migrants can settle in the UK can we control our borders and save lives at sea. That is why it is essential we relocate illegal migrants to Rwanda, rather than letting them stay in the UK.

The sooner we can bring into effect our partnership with Rwanda, the faster we can disrupt the business model of smuggling gangs and demonstrate that making dangerous, illegal, and unnecessary journeys to the UK is not a viable means of entry to the UK asylum system.

When people know that if they come here illegally, they will not get to stay, they will stop coming altogether, and we will stop the boats. Illegal migration destroys lives, costs British taxpayers billions of pounds, and is unfair to those who follow the rules. Passing the Safety of Rwanda Act and ratifying the treaty with Rwanda will help us put a stop to this.



Sustainable Aviation Fuel Mandate

This Government are fiercely proud of the success of Britain’s aviation industry, and are committed to ensuring it continues to grow and succeed in future. Decarbonisation is critical to that future, and today we are setting out another key step in delivering that by publishing the full policy detail of a world leading sustainable aviation fuel mandate which will deliver 10% of all jet fuel in flights taking off from the UK from sustainable sources by 2030 and 22% by 2040. It will be one of the first in the world to be put into law and, subject to parliamentary approval, will be implemented from 1 January 2025, once again putting the UK at the forefront of decarbonising air travel. We are also today launching a consultation on an industry-funded revenue certainty mechanism to support investment in the UK’s SAF production industry.

Today’s announcements are good for aviation, the environment and for the UK overall, with the SAF industry estimated to add over £1.8 billion to the economy and create over 10,000 jobs across the country. The SAF mandate will drive demand for SAF in the UK, secure emission reductions and provide investor confidence. A revenue certainty mechanism will also incentivise investment in UK SAF production, helping to drive growth across the UK, secure the supply of British-made SAF, and maintain the UK’s position as a global leader.

This is part of the Government’s plan to deliver on our net zero commitments while ensuring we take a pragmatic and proportionate approach which minimises unnecessary burdens on the public.

SAF mandate

Following extensive consultations with the industry the SAF mandate will deliver emission reductions of 2.7 MtCO2e in 2030 and 6.3 MtCO2e in 2040 and create high value jobs, particularly in the production of the most advanced fuel types. The Government will lay secondary legislation this summer so that the scheme comes into effect on 1 January 2025.

The Government first consulted on the introduction of a SAF mandate in July 2022 and subsequently confirmed it would be introduced from 2025. This suggested at least 10% of UK aviation fuel should come from sustainable sources by 2030 and included key elements, such as robust sustainability criteria, to ensure fuels drive genuine benefits and sub-targets to incentivise diverse SAF production pathways. A second consultation, in March 2023, focused on the detail of the scheme, key policy parameters and design of the SAF mandate. Today, the Government are confirming a trajectory for the mandate from 2025 up to 2040 that is ambitious but realistic. The mandate will start in 2025 at 2% of total UK jet fuel demand, increase on a linear basis to 10% in 2030 and then to 22% in 2040. From 2040, the obligation will remain at 22% until there is greater certainty regarding SAF supply.

The mandate will also include a cap on the feedstocks that are used in the hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids process. HEFA is currently the only commercially available SAF; however, it is dependent on limited feedstocks that cannot deliver our long-term SAF goals alone. HEFA SAF has an important part to play in the 2020s alongside the commercial development of advanced fuels that are less dependent on limited feedstocks. Today’s publication confirms that HEFA supply will not be limited under the mandate trajectory for the first two years, before falling to 71% of the total in 2030 and 33% in 2040. This will allow SAF demand to be met while incentivising the development of new SAF technologies. The UK is already producing HEFA SAF and we welcome the further development of this UK industry alongside more advanced SAF technologies. We recognise that there is a broader global HEFA market, and therefore there is no limit on the amount of HEFA that can be produced in the UK.

To drive innovation and diversification, a separate obligation on power-to-liquid fuels will be introduced from 2028 and will reach 3.5% of total jet fuel demand in 2040. This will accelerate the development of this high-tech fuel, which is less dependent on feedstocks and can generate greater emission reductions. The mandate includes buy-out mechanisms for both the main and power-to-liquid obligations to incentivise supply while protecting consumers where suppliers are unable to secure a supply of SAF. These will be set at £4.70 and £5.00 per litre of fuel, respectively. These provide a significant incentive for fuel suppliers to supply SAF into the market rather than pay the buy-out. They also set a maximum price for the scheme, and therefore deliver emission reductions at an acceptable cost.

While we recognise SAF may be more expensive than traditional jet fuel in the immediate term, we are ensuring that decarbonisation does not come at the expense of consumers. This plan is part of our approach to ensure that the rationing of flights through “demand management” is ruled out. The plan includes a review mechanism to help manage prices and minimise the impact on ticket fares for passengers. The Government also have the power to change key limits within the mandate to block higher price rises in the case of SAF shortages—keeping the impact on consumers to a minimum.

Providing sufficient SAF is available, any increases in air fares as a result of SAF will fall well within the range of usual fluctuations in prices we see every year and the Government have plans in place to prevent any major hikes. This is part of the Government’s plan to deliver on our ambitious net zero commitments while ensuring we take a pragmatic and proportionate approach which minimises unnecessary burdens on the public.

Revenue certainty mechanism

The Government committed in September 2023 to introduce an industry-funded revenue certainty mechanism for UK SAF plants and set out how it could be delivered by the end of 2026. Fulfilling our commitment in the Energy Act 2023, the launch of the consultation today demonstrates the Government’s ambition to develop a SAF industry in the UK. Such a mechanism will provide confidence in the sector and help to bring forward investment in UK SAF plants.

The consultation sets out four options that have been developed alongside stakeholders, through forums such as the Jet Zero Council. It provides a detailed assessment of these four options, looking at a range of factors from how quickly a mechanism could be delivered, to the scale of investment it is likely to bring forward. Views from stakeholders across the whole supply chain will be critical to the next phase of work and we welcome responses from all interested parties.