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Outrage as Government backtracks on DRS glass inclusion  

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  • Government breaks manifesto promise for DRS on glass 
  • MPs call for drastic re-think of ‘disastrous’ DRS scheme 
  • 84 percent of Britons want glass included 
  • DRS scheme set to be introduced in England & Northern Ireland in 2024 

THE GOVERNMENT has sparked outrage among politicians and campaigners with its U-turn to exclude glass from the UK’s deposit return scheme for drinks containers. 

Backtracking on its 2019 party manifesto, the Government revealed last week that glass would be excluded from its DRS. 

Responding to the announcement, politicians and campaigners described the move as being ‘disastrous’ for the environment. 

Labour’s Mohammad Yasin MP, A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland, and wildlife protection and animal welfare campaigner Dominic Dyer are among those calling on DEFRA to drastically re-think the scheme’s design. 

A DRS will see consumers pay a deposit on a drinks container upon purchase, which is then refunded once the container is returned.  

The scheme is set to be introduced in England and Northern Ireland in 2024. 

With the Government pledging to ‘crack down on waste’ with a DRS for plastic and glass in its 2019 party manifesto, the group warned excluding glass is breaking a promise to voters. 

They also said excluding the material goes against public opinion which strongly believes glass should be included in the UK’s DRS.  

A Populous Poll commissioned in 2020 by environmental organisation Nature 2030 found some 84 percent of Britons want all drink containers included in the scheme. 

A DRS can be a powerful tool to tackle waste and improve recycling rates, but the current scope of the scheme will fail to deliver this, the group said. 

Each year 8 billion drinks containers are thrown away across the UK, with around 126 empty containers discarded per capita annually. [i] 

Meanwhile, the UK’s recycling rates for glass stand at 76.5 percent,[ii] which is well below that of Scandinavian countries who have implemented successful schemes and boast redemption and recycling rates upwards of 92 percent. 

These schemes are also designed to cover a wide-array of materials which have been found littering the environment, being inclusive of glass, PET bottles and aluminium cans.  

Denmark, which implements one of the world’s most successful schemes, reportedly recycles some 92 percent of all bottles and cans.  

It’s estimated that the UK’s scheme could improve recycling rates for bottles and cans from 70 – 75 percent to 85 – 90 percent, but the Government’s stance will see Britain never reach this, the group said. 

If Britain is to meet the waste crisis head on, the Government must urgently review the schemes proposed design, they said. 

Mohammed Yasin MP said “The Government’s U-turn on glass is nothing short of astonishing and, worse yet, is disastrous for the environment.  

“We’ve seen how a deposit return scheme can be a game-changing device in tackling waste from drinks containers, but the scheme’s current design falls well short of what is needed. 

“The Government made a promise to voters that it would introduce a DRS which will combat litter stemming from  plastic and glass containers, but now they are breaking that. If we want a best in class scheme, then they must backtrack on this latest U-turn.”  

Sian Sutherland, A Plastic Planet Co-founder, said: “As the Government seeks to tackle waste from drinks containers with the much needed deposit return scheme, it is in danger of dropping the ball by excluding glass. 

“As an infinitely recyclable material, we should be collecting glass bottles at every opportunity. So, it makes little sense not to use this new tool of deposit return to boost glass redemption and recycling.  Despite its potential, glass recycling is relatively low in the UK and a comprehensive DRS will simply incentivise the public to value every kind of material resource.  

“If the Government wants to position the UK as a world leader on the waste crisis it should hold true to its 2019 manifesto, and introduce a DRS which combats waste from all sources.” 

Dominic Dyer, Wildlife Protection and Animal Welfare Campaigner, said “The Government wants the UK to be a world leader in tackling the waste crisis, but by excluding glass they run the risk of failing to achieve this. 

“There is a wealth of evidence which shows excluding glass would be disastrous for the environment, and it’s therefore crucial that the UK’s scheme is implemented in a way which will prevent this from happening.  

“Simply put, the scheme must be as comprehensive as possible. It must have glass in it.” 

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