U.K. Government Announces Drink Container Deposit Return Scheme to Reduce Litter

“It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove said. “We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”

People in England will soon have to pay a deposit when they buy plastic, glass, or metal drink containers as part of an effort to reduce litter pollution. The deposit will increase drink prices, but the small cash sum will be returned to consumers when they return the container. Fees will vary depending on the size of the bottle.

The government announcement comes in the wake of a new focus on the threat of ocean pollution and the effects of plastic on wildlife. Consumers in the UK use about 13 billion plastic drink bottles annually, with just 43 percent of the bottles recycled, according to The Guardian.

“It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove said. “We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”

About 40 countries worldwide and 21 U.S. states have some kind of deposit return plan in place for plastic bottles. Most involve returning bottles to an automated collection point or to the shop where they were purchased.

"We need to see a change in attitudes and behaviour. And the evidence shows that reward and return schemes are a powerful agent of change,” Gove said.

Supermarkets are a major source of plastic pollution in the U.K., with The Guardian reporting that the major chains create almost 1 million tons of plastic packaging waste annually. 

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