Return of the money-back bottle? Buyers could get 20p for each plastic bottle or they could recycle as government junk, bringing back the popular deposit system of the 1960s
- The government has long planned to introduce a deposit return system
- The program provides a small deposit that is added to the cost of drinks in plastic bottles
- Buyers would then get their deposit back when they return the packaging
- The government will launch a new consultation on how the system might work
Customers could soon pay an extra 20p for drinks in plastic bottles or metal cans under a new deposit-return system to encourage recycling and reduce waste.
The ministers have long worked on the introduction of a deposit system in which the price of certain products is slightly increased.
This money would then be returned to the customer when he returns the packaging to be recycled.
The government is expected to launch a new consultation this week to see how the program could work ahead of a possible launch in 2023.
The program is the government’s latest attempt to make the nation greener after similar initiatives like increasing plastic bag fees and banning plastic straws.
The deposit withdrawal system is likely to bring back memories of initiatives carried out in the UK in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in which some milkmen offered refunds to people who returned glass bottles.
Some manufacturers also offered a small payment for returned bottles.
The government plans to introduce a plastic bottle return system to encourage recycling
How does the new deposit return system compare to previous initiatives?
The proposed introduction of a take-back system for plastic bottles will inevitably draw comparisons with similar initiatives from the last century.
The idea of offering a deposit refund for glass bottles can be traced back to 1905 in Great Britain.
Previously, companies relied on customers to voluntarily return bottles.
In the 20th century, some companies such as AG Barr, the Scottish maker of Irn Bru, offered half a penny for a returned bottle so that it could be reused.
In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, some milkmen collected bottles on their doorstep and offered refunds for them.
However, such programs died out in the 1980s with the introduction of metal cans and cheap plastic bottles.
An initial consultation on the introduction of a deposit return system was launched in 2019 when Michael Gove was Minister of the Environment.
This consultation ended with the government saying it was going ahead with the initiative.
In a further round of consultation, the details of how the system works will now be examined.
It is looking at what items should be included in the system and is likely to be looking at what the deposit should be if it is reported that it could be set at 20p.
The initial consultation indicated that the program could cover plastic bottles, steel and aluminum cans and glass bottles.
UK consumers pass an estimated 14 billion plastic beverage bottles, nine billion beverage cans and five billion glass bottles per year, according to government figures.
Many of these are recycled, but ministers believe that more can be done to increase recycling rates.
Deposit insurance schemes have boosted recycling in European countries. Deposits range from five to 22 pence across the continent.
The deposit is returned when the empties are returned to a network of reverse vending machines in supermarkets across the country.
The beverage container deposit insurance scheme would be the latest in a long line of recent Green government initiatives.
An initial consultation on the program was launched in 2019 when Michael Gove was Environment Secretary. A new consultation is expected to start later this week to work out the final details
In October last year, a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton swabs with plastic handles was introduced.
In the meantime, ministers have already pledged to double the price of single-use bags as part of the ongoing war on plastic.
The pocket tax will be increased to 10 pence and will be extended to all small shops, markets and takeaways from April.