Defra analysed the costs and benefits of implementing a deposit return system (DRS) for single-use drink containers as part of the 2011 Review of Waste Policy in England. We also sought views in the 2012 consultation on higher packaging recycling targets.
This work showed that introducing a DRS may increase recycling and reduce litter but might impose additional costs on businesses, consumers and local authorities (which would lose revenue from recycling). However, we lack evidence to quantify these benefits and costs appropriately.
Last year, the Scottish Government published a feasibility study and a call for evidence investigating the implementation of a DRS for single-use drink containers in Scotland. This valuable work highlighted significant uncertainties about the impacts and benefits a DRS would have, notably regarding costs, environmental quality and littering and existing waste collection systems. We will review any further evidence on DRS.
We will continue to focus on improving existing waste collection and recycling systems. We are also developing a new Litter Strategy for England to help coordinate and maximise the impact of anti-litter activity by local government, industry and others.