The new scheme, covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland, will target to minimise the discarded drinks containers by 85% within three years of being launched


UK announces plans to start deposit return scheme. (Credit: Arshad Pooloo on Unsplash)

The UK government has announced its plans to start a deposit return scheme (DRS), a cash incentive system, in 2025 to improve the recycling of plastic bottles and drink cans.

The DRS scheme aims to minimise the discarded drinks containers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by 85% within three years of being launched.

Under the new plan, people will be incentivised to recycle their drinks bottles and cans in order to reduce litter and plastic pollution.

As part of the DRS, reverse vending machines will be installed at designated locations where consumers can return their bottles in exchange for money. The return points would be operated by merchants who sell drinks covered by the programme.

The UK government is working on necessary changes like setting up infrastructure and amending labelling to begin implementing the programme.

UK Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “We want to support people who want to do the right thing to help stop damaging plastics polluting our green spaces or floating in our oceans and rivers.

“That is why we are moving ahead using our powers from our landmark Environment Act to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers.

“This will provide a simple and effective system across the country that helps people reduce litter and recycle more easily, even when on the move.”

According to the environment minister, the delivery of the DRS scheme was made post-consultation, in which 83% of respondents voted in favour of the new incentive system.

After the latest announcement, the focus will shift to advancing legislation and starting the selection process for the Deposit Management Organisation, an industry-led organisation that will be established to oversee the system.

The move aligns with the UK government’s efforts to remove avoidable plastic waste. It follows the recent announcement that banned the use of single-use items like plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene trays in England to reduce environmental pollution.