ACP chair questions role of DRS

In a letter to, the chair of the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) has questioned how effectively a deposit return scheme (DRS) would prevent litter.

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Last week, marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage called on the government to introduce an ‘all-in’ DRS “urgently”, after its research found that such a system would capture 29% of items littered on UK beaches (see story).

However, the ACP’s chair Deep Sagar disagrees that the introduction of a DRS could prove to be the solution.

In his ‘Letter to the Editor’, Mr Sagar writes: “Litter is bad. But it is created by some people who litter and local authorities who might not provide enough bins.

“To replace that by a deposit return scheme is not easy. The proposed scheme will only take a share of litter. It will also increase prices significantly for all consumers, not just for those who litter.

“My committee has told government that the economics of the proposed deposit return scheme are ambitious. Those who are calling for that scheme should remember there is no free lunch. Instead, we propose other lower-cost initiatives. But that is another story.”

Mr Sagar was appointed chair of the ACP in October 2020 after his predecessor, Phil Conran, stood down after five years in the role (see story).


Earlier this year, the UK’s plans to introduce a DRS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were delayed to 2024, with the government blaming the Covid-19 pandemic (see story).

Deep Sagar is chair of the ACP

In Scotland, a review into the current 2022 ‘go live’ date of its own DRS is underway (see story). Initially planned for this summer, its introduction was last year delayed to July 2022 to allow businesses more time to prepare in light of the pandemic.

There remains scepticism among some in the waste and recycling sector, including Mr Sagar, about whether a DRS is necessary, with the government to introduce other legislation targeting waste and plastic pollution, such as extended producer responsibility for packaging (see story).


Surfers Against Sewage wants the government to introduce an all-in DRS, rather than a model that would target only those small containers classified as ‘on-the-go’. An all-in DRS would target most drinks containers placed on the market, irrespective of size.


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