A study supported by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and written by Eunomia has claimed that councils would benefit from the introduction of a Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS) for drinks containers in England.
The piece of work comes as Defra consults on the idea of a DRS and was supported by other groups including Keep Britain Tidy and the Marine Conservation Society.
According to the campaigners, the report found that councils across England could save up to £35 million every year if a deposit refund system (DRS) for plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans was introduced.
The report analysed data across eight local authorities, including those with high and low recycling rates.
In the report, Eunomia explained: “Assuming, arguably conservatively, that the mean average saving across the high recycling authorities (of £1.47 per household) is replicated across England as a whole, the annual net saving to local authorities under a DRS would be close to £35 million.”
The report also revealed that local authorities will lose some income as a result of the reduced number of cans and plastic bottles in the kerbside collections to sell to recyclers.
However, the study showed that savings made from having fewer containers to collect and sort, as well as reduced levels of littering and reduced landfill charges “will actually create savings that outweigh the loss of revenue”.
The consortium concluded that the report’s findings provide evidence that a DRS could support local authority waste services and reduce costs of delivering the service, “while also delivering cleaner streets and reducing the amount of plastic entering our oceans”.
Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “There is no doubt that introducing a deposit refund system would reduce littering in this country but, until now, there has been a concern that it would have a negative impact on cash-strapped councils. This report shows that in fact a DRS would create savings for local government.”
Samantha Harding, litter programme director at CPRE, said: “There are no longer any valid arguments that DRS does not work and the environmental case is crystal clear.
“There is no doubt that introducing a deposit refund system would reduce littering in this country but, until now, there has been a concern that it would have a negative impact on cash-strapped councils. This report shows that in fact a DRS would create savings for local government.”
Keep Britain Tidy
“For our coasts and countryside, the cost of not taking action will be far greater than any incurred by the parts of industry that are trying to block this. Michael Gove can now build on the success of the Government’s bag charge and the ban on microbeads by confirming England will have a deposit system.”
As a member of the Litter Strategy Advisory Group, CPRE providing the Secretariat for the government’s Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group. As such, CPRE will manage analysis of evidence submitted but will not itself submit evidence (see letsrecycle.com story).
When responding to letsrecycle.com on whether CPRE could remain impartial in managing evidence, Ms Harding responded: “We are awkwardly wearing two hats. But clearly we are capable of doing that. We have a litter programme but we are also able to facilitate a government process that looks at all the solutions.
“We have discussed what appears to be a conflict of interest with the government, as CPRE’s position on DRS is well established. But we are wedded to the results of a DRS scheme not the DRS scheme itself. If there is another way to get the same results then we can get on board with that.”