Deposit Return Scheme To Be Fully Rolled Out In October 2025
deposit return scheme

Deposit Return Scheme: The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have announced that they are to finally roll out the deposit return scheme (DRS) in October 2025. Materials Recycling World reports that the scheme will apply to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, after first being proposed way back in 2018.

A deposit management organisation will be appointed to oversee the scheme, which will work closely with industry to collect and recycle PET, steel, and aluminium drinks containers. However, glass will only be included in the scheme in Wales. The reaction to the outlined plans has been mixed. With some positive voices and some raising concerns.

Defra aims to increase recycling rates for drinks containers to 85% within three years of the commencement of the scheme. The British Soft Drinks Association have reacted positively to the news, as has soft drink manufacturing giant Coca Cola. However, some commentators have criticised the lack of detail and clarity in the scheme. 

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has welcomed the plans, but executive director Jacob Hayler told Let’s Recycle that he had reservations about the structure of the DRS. 

Mr Haylor said: “Defra has rightly focused on addressing littering and other environmental outcomes as its rationale for introducing a DRS, but has opted for an “all-in” system, instead of focusing only on “on-the-go” container formats, which are most commonly littered and which often go unrecycled away from the home.

Ms Rackley explained: “As staunch believers in the importance of leveraging digital technologies to reverse stagnating recycling rates, we are encouraged that the Government is willing to consider a digital DRS (DDRS) that can work in tandem with reverse vending machines (RVMs), but disappointed at some of the perceived shortcomings.

He added: “As a result, the DRS system holds the potential to cannibalise household recycling collections while adding additional cost and complexity.”

“Other reforms contained within the Resources and Waste Strategy, namely EPR and more consistent collections, hold the potential to deliver many of the same beneficial outcomes as DRS and we would have preferred them to be introduced first, with DRS phased in later to address any remaining materials not being captured.”

He concluded: “This would limit the impact on consumers and the potential for these systems to work at odds with each other.”

Meanwhile, the anti-plastic pollution group City to the Sea have criticised the fact that glass will only be included in the scheme in Wales. Policy manager Steve Hynd said that the approach was incoherent and further heightened tensions between Westminster and the devolved nations. Scotland has already put an independent DRS system in place.

The exact deposit fee has yet to be fixed, although the 2021 consultation found that 20p was the most favoured amount. Originally, the scheme was to have been implemented by this year, but the pandemic disruption has pushed the launch back to October 2025. Defra will now work with industry to put together the statutory framework.

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