The UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive have confirmed that glass beverage bottles will not be in scope of a future Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).
The announcement was part of an official response to the Government’s previous consultation on the proposed scheme.
A wide range of UK businesses from across the glass industry, beverage, retail and hospitality sectors have long been calling on all governments across the UK to omit glass bottles from their respective schemes, and instead recycle all glass packaging as part of improved, consistent kerbside collections within a world-leading system of Extended Producer Responsibility.*
British Glass is delighted by this commitment to exclude glass from the future scheme in England and Northern Ireland.
Including glass in the DRS would have increased the carbon emissions in the atmosphere by two million tonnes, increased plastic consumption, and split glass food and beverage packaging into two waste streams – to the detriment of both.
In addition, the public would prefer to see glass recycled at their doorstep; new polling from Savanta shows that two thirds of UK adults (69%) say that recycling glass bottles through household waste collections would be more convenient than returning them to a dedicated return point.
Wales and Scotland
British Glass was disappointed to see that the Welsh Government plan to include glass in its scheme, creating concerns about how the schemes will operate and interact across the UK.
Given the land border between England and Wales, the divergence in the scope of materials raises questions about labelling and logistics for producers and retailers.
Meanwhile, for residents in close proximity to the border, it risks creating more confusion on how to recycle bottles properly, to the detriment of both kerbside collections and a DRS.
Given the complexity of adding glass to a DRS, British Glass is calling on the Welsh and Scottish governments to think again on glass’ inclusion within their respective schemes.
Not only would this help overcome issues around interoperability, but also expedite the implementation date of the schemes across the UK.
Not to mention, Wales currently captures 87.3% of glass bottles and jars through household collections, which implies that the current system works.
British Glass CEO Dave Dalton said: “We already have a convenient solution to improving glass recycling, and it’s at our doorsteps.
“By recycling glass through consistent kerbside collections, Extended Producer Responsibility, and campaigns to promote a better culture of recycling, we can meet the glass industry’s recycling rate target of 90% by 2030.”
*An Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme will see producers become fully responsible for the full cost of managing packaging once it becomes waste. The scheme will incentivise producers to create packaging that is easy to recycle and is set to come into effect in 2024.