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New scheme to pay people to recycle cans and bottles

Rebecca Goodman
Written By:
Rebecca Goodman

A new deposit return scheme has been announced by the government for plastic bottles and drink cans.

Cash will be paid to those who recycle bottles and cans in an attempt to reduce litter and plastic pollution.

The scheme, announced by environment minister Rebecca Pow, will start in 2025. The amount of money paid per item has not yet been decided.

Special ‘reverse vending machines’ are to be used in designated sites for people to return cans and bottles in return for cash. It will be in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Each year around 14 billion plastic drinks bottles and nine billion cans are condemned to landfill sites. The scheme aims to reduce this by 85% within three years of its launching.

‘Supporting people to do the right thing’

Pow said: “We want to support people who want to do the right thing to help stop damaging plastics polluting our green spaces or floating in our oceans and rivers.

“That is why we are moving ahead using our powers from our landmark Environment Act to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers.

“This will provide a simple and effective system across the country that helps people reduce litter and recycle more easily, even when on the move.”

The scheme has been launched following a government consultation, in which 83% of respondents favoured the new system.

Similar schemes operate in Germany, Finland and Norway where recycling rates are above 90% compared to 70% in the UK.

The next step will be to bring forward legislation and appoint the Deposit Management Organisation which will run the scheme and decide on the amount of cash people will receive for recycling items.

Dusan Stojankic, vice president of operations at Coca-Cola in Great Britain & Ireland, said: “We strongly welcome today’s commitment by the government to introduce Deposit Return Schemes in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

“Coca-Cola has long called for a well-designed Deposit Return Scheme that works seamlessly across Great Britain to reduce litter, and enable more packaging to be collected and recycled at the highest quality.”

A ban on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products, restrictions on single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds, a plastic packaging tax, and charging people for single-use plastic bags have already been introduced.