‘Major concerns’ about including glass in recycling scheme

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Confusing and costly: pubs may suffer from a deposit return scheme backed by Michael Gove (image: Policy Exchange, Flickr)
Confusing and costly: pubs may suffer from a deposit return scheme backed by Michael Gove (image: Policy Exchange, Flickr)

Related tags Bbpa

The British Beer & Pub Association has reiterated concerns that the inclusion of glass in a deposit return scheme (DRS) would be costly and confusing for the pub trade.

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds responded to comments made by Environment Secretary Michael Gove in a speech at Kew Gardens in London earlier this week.

Gove said time was running out to “to repair the damage we as a species have done to the planet we have plundered”.

He supported an “all-in” scheme that would cover all bottle sizes and types, which would give the public “the greatest possible incentive” to recycle.

Cost increase

Simmonds said the trade body would continue to work with policymakers to create a scheme that worked for operators and brewers. 

She said: “We have major concerns over the inclusion of glass in a DRS scheme, which would substantially increase costs that may have to be passed on to consumers. It would also make the system infinitely more complex.

“We remain committed to working with the Government on a deposit return scheme that works for the brewing and pub sectors across the UK. To achieve this, it is essential we are involved in plans to implement the system and more discussions between DEFRA and our sector are needed.”

The BBPA has also supported a UK-aligned scheme as “the optimal solution” to avoid two different systems running in parallel between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Other sector trade bodies have previously expressed concerns about the proposed scheme’s impact on businesses.​ 

Could undermine progress

Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) chief executive Miles Beale said the group was “unconvinced” glass containers should be included in the scope of the scheme. 

He said: “The UK already exceeds EU glass recycling targets.

“About 70% of glass packaging is recycled against a target of only 60%. Introducing DRS for glass drinks containers flies in the face of this track record – and could undermine achievements to date.”

Similarly, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls warned measures to promote sustainability must be proportionate to what pubs can cope with. 

She said: “Any new scheme, particularly the deposit return scheme, must be workable and avoid piling further financial pressure on businesses.”

In his speech, Gove warned: “There is an economic need to act – because unless we restore our natural capital then we will have depleted soils incapable of yielding harvests or sustaining livestock, we will have oceans with more plastic than fish, we will have dried up or contaminated water sources and we will have severe weather events endangering lives and livelihoods.”

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