DRS Delay Dismay

Governments across the UK have delayed the delivery of the deposit return scheme for another two years. SAS headed to the Welsh Parliament to learn more.

In 2019, Theresa May was succeeded by Boris Johnston as Prime Minister, XR were causing mass disruption around London to call for action on the climate crisis, and Gregg’s launched their vegan sausage roll. The same year, the UK Government committed to an ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme to be delivered in the seemingly distant 2023.

Last week, and 5 years on, all four Governments in the UK announced a delay to their promised deposit return scheme until 2027 and finally released their plan as to how they are going to deliver them. Having been campaigning for a DRS for 10 years, it is about time Governments across the UK got on with it. 

Deposit Returns Schemes are not a novel idea, they are currently in place in over 60 countries around the world with many more expected to follow in the next few years. One of the most recent countries to put a scheme in place is Ireland who collected 2 million bottles within the first 2 months of its operation.

We hope that the commitment made by the four Governments is the beginning of the end for the delivery of a similar scheme for people in the UK. But we know we need to keep the pressure on. With a strong lobby against the scheme pushing for further delays, we regularly hear from the people profiting from the pollution a DRS would prevent that they don’t want a scheme – surprising? Not really.

It is this vocal lobby that pushed the UK Government to omit including glass in their scheme, forcing Scotland and Northern Ireland to follow suit. Despite the disappointing back step from the majority of the UK’s governments, we were heartened to hear plans from the Welsh Government that they will continue with their plans to include the carbon intensive material in their scheme.

To hear more about their plans, we went to the Senedd last week. At Welsh Parliament, we spoke to Wales’ Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies and heard from speakers championing the importance of a DRS for reducing plastic pollution. Speakers included our very own Sian Sykes, SAS Rep and Plastic Free Anglesey Lead who circumnavigated Wales on a paddle board to campaign against the plastic that enters rivers and seas on a daily basis.

We know that a DRS will encourage a better system for recycling drinks containers, one of the products most polluting areas cleaned by volunteers. That’s why we will continue to keep the pressure on Governments across the UK to finally take a stand and deliver the scheme people across the UK have been calling for for years.