Last week (20 January), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), jointly published the official consultation response to the introduction of a deposit return scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, provided the following comment:
“On immediate reflection, it’s fair to say that the aluminium packaging sector is hugely disappointed about many of the proposals detailed within Defra’s response. The sector’s concerns around the potential of a poorly-designed DRS to lead to unintended and damaging consequences for the market for drink cans made of infinitely recyclable aluminium haven’t been eased by the announcement. For example, excluding glass bottles from the scheme in England heightens the potential for material switching away from aluminium and increases the cost of fraud, when the government’s own analysis of responses to the consultation showed that 70% of respondents supported including glass bottles in the scheme.
“As an industry, we’re always looking for new and innovative solutions to increase recycling rates and embrace the circular packaging economy of tomorrow. The considered roll-out of a well-designed deposit return scheme could – and should – have contributed to this. Unfortunately, as per the concerns outlined within our pioneering Aluminium Manifesto (March ‘22), it looks likely that hugely disruptive market change will be seen.
“As we enter a period of discussion and (hopefully) co-operation regarding how best to roll-out this system, Alupro will be engaging intensely with the governments and emergent scheme administrator(s). We want to ensure not only that any further risks can be avoided, for example by encouraging the adoption of a variable rate of deposit by size, but that the system embraces all the elements needed for it to be a success – including innovative consumer engagement (for example through a programme like Every Can Counts, which has already engaged millions around the UK to drive up drinks can recycling to 82% in 2021) to increase participation.
“We will, of course, provide further analysis in due course.”