Deposit return scheme on drinks cans and bottles in the UK could raise £2.3bn for local charities

Scotland has confirmed its initiative will be up and running by 2021

Plastic waste found littering sea floor during deepest ever ocean dive

A deposit return scheme on drinks cans and bottles in the UK could raise billions for local charities, a survey suggests.

Earlier this month, the Scottish Government announced plans for a deposit return scheme that will see a 20p deposit added to the price of single-use drinks containers bought from a shop.

The consumer will then get their deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can to the retailer.

While Scotland is likely to be the first nation in the UK to introduce a return scheme, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is currently consulting on a similar initiative in England.

In light of this, a poll for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) – a pressure group that seeks to protect the English countryside – has revealed that if the scheme was to be instated across the UK it could raise more than £2.3bn for local charities.

The poll involved more than 2,000 people who answered questions on using a deposit return scheme and found that one fifth of participants (20 per cent) said they would always choose to donate the deposit to charity.

Meanwhile, more than a third (19 per cent) said they would donate the deposit at least some of the time.

As such, a UK-wide deposit return scheme could provide billions for charities from those who would always, mostly or sometimes donate their deposit instead of reclaiming it.

The figure would be even higher if drinks cartons and pouches are included, the pressure group estimates.

The countryside charity said that if an option for the public to donate their deposits is included in the scheme, it could build on the success of the carrier bag charge which raised £66m for good causes in 2016/2017.

Samantha Harding, litter programme director at CPRE, said the introduction of a UK-wide deposit return scheme could not only put a stop to most of the environmental damage caused by drinks containers and boost recycling rates in excess of 90 per cent but also provide much needed funding for good causes across the country.

“It is fantastic and really heartening that so many people would be happy to donate their deposits in this way,” Harding said.

”An effective ‘all-in’ deposit return system will bring an end to the growing disenchantment and scepticism around current recycling methods by doubling current recycling rates.

“But it's also evident that the deposit, as well as encouraging the right behaviour in terms of recycling, would allow for people's generous natures to be realised when it comes to supporting others.”

Scotland’s environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham has revealed that the deposit return scheme would be up and running by the end of the current parliament in 2021 and aims to capture 90 per cent of drinks containers for recycling within three years.

Meanwhile, DEFRA has confirmed that the feedback from its public consultation regarding the initiative in England is currently being analysed.

The move forms part of a wider campaign across a range of industries and countries against single-use plastics.

Earlier this month, the United Nations announced that almost every country in the world has signed up to a legally-binding plan to cut plastic waste – with the US as an exception.

A total of 186 countries reached an agreement on Friday 10 May which means they will have to monitor and track movements of plastic waste outside their borders.

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Rolph Payet, of the UN Environment Programme, called the amendment to the Basel Convention “historic”.

“It’s sending a very strong political signal to the rest of the world – to the private sector, to the consumer market – that we need to do something,” Payet said.

“Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action on the ground."

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