10th October 2019 | The Savoy, London, WC2R 0EZ
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796 BSDA Banner DRS

Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)

In a DRS, consumers are charged a sum of money as a deposit up front when they buy a drink in a single-use container. This can be redeemed when the empty container is returned. In existing schemes in other countries consumers can either return containers through a reverse vending machine or manually return them to a retailer to redeem the deposit value. The containers are then collected and recycled. The BSDA supports the introduction of a GB-wide DRS.

Deposit return scheme

In a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), consumers are charged a small sum of money as a deposit up-front when they buy a drink in a single-use container. This is redeemed when the empty container is returned. In existing schemes in other countries, consumers can return containers to retailers and other take-back points using reverse vending machines or manual return systems to redeem their deposits. The containers are then collected and recycled. The BSDA supports the introduction of a GB-wide DRS.

The soft drinks and bottled water sectors have always taken recycling, littering and the environment very seriously. We lead the industry in recyclable packaging, with plastic bottles and cans easily recyclable and widely collected for recycling across the country.

We are pleased that recycling/recovery rates for drinks containers have increased over the years, but there is still room for improvement. Industry estimates suggest a UK recycling collection rates of 74% for plastic drinks bottles, and 72% for aluminium drinks cans.

In addition to increasing recycling rates above these levels, a well-designed DRS should also improve the quality and increase the quantity of material collected for recycling and reuse as new packaging. This will support the aims of many producers to move to a truly more circular model for packaging, supporting bottle-to-bottle and can-to-can recycling, and towards the circular economy we all want to see.

1. Northern Ireland

Government considering proposals to introduce a DRS by 2023

2. Scotland

Government aiming to introduce DRS in 2021. Scheme plans unveiled in in May 2019. An 'all-in' scheme that includes glass

3. England

Government considering proposals to introduce a DRS by 2023

4. Wales

Government considering proposals to introduce a DRS by 2023

The BSDA supports the introduction of a GB-wide DRS for all plastic and can beverage containers up to 3 litres in size, as our assessment suggests this is the best way to increase recycling levels and tackle litter. However, this must be accompanied by reform of the current producer responsibility system to create greater transparency and increased investment in UK recycling infrastructure.