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UK Government told to “keep up with Wales” and include glass in new deposit return scheme

20 Jan 2023 3 minute read
PA Wire/PA Images – Picture by: Jonathan Pow

The UK government has been accused of not keeping up with Wales with a new deposit scheme that only includes cans and plastic – but not glass.

Wales will work with England and Northern Ireland on a scheme which would see shoppers having to pay a “small cash deposit” when buying a drink in a single use container with the money returned when people bring back the used containers for recycling.

As it’s a joint initiative, it means you could buy a drink in Barry and return it in Bristol or Belfast.

But the plans, announced by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), have been blasted by some environmental campaigners.

Greenpeace said after “five years of dithering” the UK Government had “bottled it and excluded glass from the scheme” for England and Northern Ireland.

Defra confirmed glass bottles would not be included in the deposit return schemes in those countries – but would be in Wales.

Instead, it said these would be covered by “extended producer responsibility” which will see targets for glass recycling placed on producers in England and Northern Ireland.


Under the UK Government proposals, the deposit return scheme will come into place in 2025 – with ministers hoping the change will lead to a reduction in drinks containers being abandoned as litter.

Every year, UK consumers go through an estimated 14 billion plastic drinks bottles and nine billion drinks cans, many of which are littered or condemned to landfill.

But glass is widely considered the most carbon-intensive material used for drinks and the most expensive waste for local councils to deal with.

Scotland will introduce its own deposit return scheme in August 2023 which will include glass bottles.

Dr Kat Jones, director of the Association for Protection of Rural Scotland said not including glass in England or Northern Ireland was a “backward step” and she urged UK Government to “follow Scotland’s lead and to keep up with Wales.”


Megan Randles, a political campaigner at Greenpeace, said it was “better to have this proposed system rather than nothing”, but added: “In what kind of world is collecting glass drinks containers not an essential part of a system designed to collect drinks containers?

“To be honest, it reeks of corporate lobbying – from the kind of companies who talk big on social responsibility, but do everything they can to push the problems they create onto others.

“If we’re serious about leaving a better natural environment for future generations, kicking the can down the road just doesn’t cut it.”

Surfers Against Sewage also hit out, tweeting: “Not only does gov’s plan for England’s Deposit Return Scheme exclude glass, it won’t be implemented until Oct 2025! And they’re calling that a ‘stretching target’.”

Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “This is another step forward in moving Wales to a more circular economy where less waste is generated, and resources are reused and recycled rather than ending up in landfill.

“Consultation has shown huge public support for the scheme’s introduction, and we know people in Wales want to play their part in improving our already world-leading recycling rates.”

“Wales is the third best country in the world for recycling, but we know we can and need to go further in tackling the waste that affects our cities and towns and blights our countryside and reducing our emissions.”

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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 year ago

I’m glad this policy is making coming back. It was a mistake when remove it in the first place. Sadly, sometimes the carrot & stick methodology is the only way. Wish it wasn’t but society’s fickle sometimes. No doubt any Welsh Government success will be claimed by the Conservatives as theirs because they provided the gas, or bluster, to carbonate the pop in those bottles. I can remember in the 1970s & 80s collecting at home and searching the streets & roads for glass pop bottles then taking them to my local newsagent for money to buy sweets. I wish… Read more »

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