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Deposit Return Scheme

Volume 650: debated on Thursday 29 November 2018

The consultation on a deposit return scheme will be published shortly and it will look at the details of how a scheme could work, alongside the other measures to increase recycling rates. We are continuing to work with the devolved Administrations, potentially on a UK scheme.

A recent BBC documentary showed a dead sperm whale with a large amount of plastic waste in its stomach, including four plastic bottles. So given the urgency, and the keen interest that my constituents have in this issue, can the Minister actually confirm a date of the roll-out of a deposit return scheme?

No, I cannot, because we have yet to consult on the scheme. It is important that we give proper consideration not only to the opportunities but to the challenges. The hon. Lady is right to continue to raise the impact of people being careless with litter, which is how plastic often ends up in the marine environment. That is something that everyone in the House wants to prevent.

The Environmental Audit Committee’s report on the Arctic is published today. Because of weather and tides, most of our marine plastic ends up in the Arctic. It is imperative that the deposit return scheme is introduced as soon as possible. Will the Minister confirm that the measures to introduce the DRS will be included in the draft environment Bill when it is published? Or will it be in separate legislation and thereby further delayed?

It really matters that we get the DRS right and that we get the outcomes that we all want to see. It is just a little too early to commit to a certain kind of legislation; we must wait until we have done the consultation.

Given how successful the plastic bag levy has been, reducing the use of plastic bags by 80%, and bearing in mind that the working group report in February this year showed that Germany’s deposit return scheme delivers the recycling of 98% of polyethylene bottles, will the Minister tell us whether we will have a deposit return scheme, as suggested by the evidence, or whether her decision will be determined by the British Soft Drinks Association?

I note that after 13 years of a Labour Government nothing similar was introduced. I have looked into this issue carefully and visited several countries. The thing is, the front end is similar for everybody, but we must get the back-end solution right, because that is what we need to deliver the scheme effectively, rather than just getting headlines.