Single-use drinks bottles will soon carry a levy unless returned

By 26/04/2018 Environment

The UK Government announced on Thursday 28th March that the deposit return scheme on single-use bottles and cans will go ahead, an amazing step forward in stopping harmful plastic pollution and the devastating effect it has on our planet. The scheme is simple – whilst you pay a levy when buying your drink, this is returned when the empty bottles are placed in a designated collection point. The deposit scheme will mean that whilst consumers will pay more per can or bottle, this will be a method of encouraging all of us to correctly dispose of these types of items that are currently strewn throughout our countryside and waterways.

There has been constant lobbying to reduce or eradicate the effects that single-use plastic bottles and other non-sustainable products have on our environment. Whilst England follow on the heels of Scotland, at long last moves are being made to introduce this important revolution in how we dispose of non-sustainable plastic and tin cans. Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to follow suit later in the year.

Sky TV have called it ‘a victory for our seas’ on the back of a strong campaign by their own ‘Ocean Rescue’ lobby, aimed at urging the government to push this bill through. Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced the scheme, which was met with huge approval from government colleagues, but ‘rumblings’ continue from manufacturers and retailers as to the damage it may cause their business.

The scheme (known as ‘the Return and Reward Scheme’) is already successful in many other countries, such as Germany, Norway, Sweden and Australia, where harmful waste and plastic pollution has been cut considerably (percentage amounts vary). The question asked by many is however, ‘what does this mean to the consumer?’

The scheme is anticipated to be in place by Spring 2019 but full details are still subject to consultation by the government and industry representatives. What is sure is that the scheme will cover not just single-use plastic bottles, but other harmful waste such as single-use glass, steel and aluminium cans.

What will you pay and how does it work?

Probably the question on most peoples’ lips. Costs have not been decided for the levies, but are pitched at anywhere between 8p – 22p per item, but the likelihood seems to be a figure of around 20p. There is also debate on charging a sliding scheme depending on the size of the bottle/can or glass.

Your disposable receptacles are placed into a ‘reverse vending machine’, which sucks in the bottles or cans and sorts them into relevant sections. At the end of your disposal, you will receive a refund receipt, which will be exchanged for cash at ‘return and reward’ outlets, such as large retailers, supermarkets, garages and other appointed locations. Where these will be is not yet fully decided.

Some months ago Prince Charles announced his support of the campaign and described how it would work, drawing comparisons with countries such as Germany who have operated the scheme for over 12 years, with a resultant (and vast) reduction in harmful waste by 95%!

Interestingly, the concept of reverse vending is not new to the UK. Such machines were on sale back in 1972 – what a pity they never really came to fruition, all but 50 years ago.

Will it really happen?

It will, but there is anticipated pushback from the industry participants (bottling and canning companies etc). Concerns have already been raised from such industry spokespeople, but even large companies, such as Coca Cola (who were originally against the scheme), have now concluded;

“The time is right – we all have to look at what else we can do”. Well done Coca Cola – so what is stopping the other conglomerates in the industry from taking a leaf out of their book?

The British Plastics Federation estimate a cost of £1 billion for set up charges, and a further £1 billion on average per year, to run the scheme. Not much to pay to save our planet. Needless to say, Hydratem8 are delighted that these moves to improve single-use plastic wastage by levying a charge, should make our population think twice about how they dispose of such items. Hopefully, the next major change will be to eliminate any single-use plastic products, and replace them with sustainable plastic bottles and other relevant items.

This is not a ‘tax’, it is totally refundable as long as you do the right thing for our planet and its longevity.

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