Deposit Return Scheme – The Sustainability Expert’s View

Steve Malkin, founder of The Planet Mark™, welcomes the Government’s plan to introduce a national plastic bottle and can deposit return scheme to crack down on our mounting plastic waste problem.

The announcement by Environment Secretary Michael Gove to introduce a national deposit return scheme for single-use plastic and glass bottles and cans sends all the right messages to people and business.

The public have been shocked by the huge cost to our oceans and natural world from plastic pollution and are calling for action. Meanwhile, our recycling plants have been straining under the huge build up of plastic waste after China’s recent ban on plastic waste imports.. A move that is long overdue, this announcement –  coming as it does after the 5p plastic bag charge and the ban on microbeads – shows the Government is committed to cleaning up the UK and the planet and to address our ‘throw away’ culture.

It gives shoppers a system that they can easily adopt and it will instill better behaviour for recycling other consumer products that would otherwise be thrown away.

For business, it offers the opportunity to think about designing better products that considers ‘end of life’ – giving unwanted plastic a new life.

For those businesses embracing sustainability – and there are many – this is the shot in the arm that will encourage them to do more good work way beyond this scheme.

For other businesses that haven’t seen this coming, it is a wake up call. We are in the middle of a revolution to cleaner living and those companies who are not performing and not contributing will suffer.

This is a truly exciting move, and you’ll see a very positive reaction from business. We know that businesses that hold The Planet Mark™ have wanted a clearer statement from Government on sustainability, whether it’s cutting needless waste, contributing to clean air or cutting carbon emissions.

We know from similar schemes in other countries, such as Norway, Denmark and Germany, that deposit return schemes work well and, in our experience, businesses are ready to step up and support schemes that deliver better outcomes for society and the environment, with many of them leading the way ahead of regulation.

What they, and we all, have looked for is stronger and more consistent political leadership. We hope that this signals a more determined position from the UK Government to grasp the opportunity of a more sustainable way of living and working.

Recycling and returning waste so that it can become the raw materials for future products, and hence a revenue stream, is always upper most in the minds of business leaders looking to make their companies more sustainable.

Of course, the details needs to be worked out. Making this programme work will require careful planning and consultation and will need to ensure it is delivering itself in a sustainable way.

But we know that business is a power for good, run by leaders and employees who are already contributing and want to do more. We are confident that this Government action will be fully embraced and lead to a more sustainable economy and society.