The UK Government is planning to introduce a deposit return scheme for single-use drink containers including plastic, glass or metal, to increase recycling rates and reduce plastic pollution.
The scheme, which is subject to consultation, aims to increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste polluting land and seas.
The consultation will assess how the scheme will work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates.
In countries like Denmark, Sweden and Germany similar schemes are already in operation.
Under a deposit return scheme, consumers will pay an up-front deposit when they purchase a drink, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany. It can be redeemed when consumers return the empty drink container.
The potential variants of a deposit return scheme include cash rewards for returning drinks containers without an upfront deposit.
UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment – killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats.
“It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.
“We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”
According to estimates, about 13 billion plastic drink bottles being sold annually of which more than three billion are either incinerated, sent to a landfill or left to pollute streets, the countryside and marine environment.
Plans are being developed by Defra for a deposit return scheme for consultation later this year.
The consultation will seek inputs from producers, suppliers and consumers to make sure that any system introduced works throughout the UK.
The consultation will sit alongside a package of reforms of the existing packaging waste system, which will incentivise producers to take better responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products and to increase the amount of packaging they recycle, the government said.
Image: Empty plastic bottles. Photo: courtesy of nunawwoofy/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.