Milton Keynes MPs welcome deposit return scheme in fight against plastic

MP Iain Stewart and the Sky Ocean Rescue whale
MP Iain Stewart and the Sky Ocean Rescue whale

A deposit return scheme to increase recycling rates and slash the amount of waste polluting our land and seas will be introduced subject to consultation later this year, it was confirmed yesterday.

UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute our streets, countryside and marine environment.

The consultation will look at the details of how such a scheme would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates.

Similar schemes already operate in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany. A deposit return scheme sees consumers pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany, which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container. Possible variants of a deposit return scheme include cash rewards for returning drinks containers without an upfront deposit.

This is often done through a network of ‘reverse vending machines’, where you insert your plastic or glass bottle or can and the machine returns your money. Once a bottle is returned, businesses are then responsible for making sure they are effectively recycled – a move that has led to a 97% recycling rate in Germany.

Yesterday’s announcement is the latest move in the government crackdown on plastic, following the plastic microbead ban hailed as one of the world’s strongest bans and the 5p plastic bag charge – which has led to 9 billion fewer bags distributed. It also follows the recent call for evidence by HM Treasury on taxes and charges to reduce waste from single-use plastics, so that all relevant findings can be fed into the proposals.

Milton Keynes MPs Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart said: “The amount of waste polluting our land and seas remains a great source of frustration for residents all over Milton Keynes.

"It’s one of the biggest issues that’s raised with us on the doorstep.

“We are working to leave our planet in a better state for the next generation, with cleaner air, greener spaces, stronger protections for animal welfare and tougher action on plastic waste.”

The Conservative Council group leader in MK Councillor Alex Walker said: “This is a big, positive step by the government. But we also need to think about what more we can do locally. "Sadly the Council has pulled back on funding litter picks in Milton Keynes and it is clear our environment is suffering as a result.

"If the Conservatives win the Council in May we will invest in expanding litter picks across Milton Keynes making it a cleaner place to live.”