Letter: Deep Sagar writes on Deposit Return Schemes

With Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) proposed for England and Wales and the Scottish Government’s aim of introducing one in July 2022, the chair of the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging has written to letsrecycle.com.

Deep Sagar has warned of 'significant new costs' in setting up DRS

The letter from the chair, Deep Sagar, comes a week after the Scottish Government left the timetable unclear for a DRS roll-out with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs still to decide on the approach to a scheme being rolled out in England (see letsrecycle.com story).

Mr Sagar warns of the cost of the scheme being passed back to consumers and how other UK nations could learn from Scotland’s scheme.


Dear Editor,

Deep Sagar (pictured at the 2021 letsrecycle Live event)

We respect the Scottish Government’s policy introducing a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers. Indeed, we have advised administrations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that they should learn from results of that scheme before implementing one of their own.

A deposit return scheme is likely to increase the amount of packaging waste recycled and thus be good for the environment. However, it should not be sold to the public as something “industry is paying” for. Significant new costs are involved in setting up and running a scheme administrator, building and servicing reverse vending machines and collection points at retailers, reducing the recycling available for sale with local authorities, and making consumers bring containers back to retailers and not fully recover back their deposit.

Only in the first instance would drinks producers or retailers pay for all the investment due. Like night follows day they will collect these back from consumers through higher prices over time. The Scottish Government’s own impact assessment suggested each Scottish person paying about £10 extra every year in effect, neatly couched as “dis-amenity benefit”.

Sadly, the Deposit Return Scheme is a worthy endeavour but no free lunch.


Deep Sagar
Chair, Advisory Committee on Packaging
(Advisers including to the Scottish Government)

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