Glass should be kept out of DRS – drinks body

The trade body representing UK wine and spirit producers has reiterated its call for a UK-wide deposit return scheme (DRS) to exclude glass from within its scope.

Speaking at the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s (WSTA) industry summit last week, chief executive Miles Beale said the WSTA had been the “lone voice” among trade bodies in opposing the inclusion of glass within the scope of the proposed scheme for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“It’s not because we don’t want to see collection and recycling rates increase but because we believe – we know - that this can be achieved more efficiently, more quickly and more cost effectively if we look to build on the existing system of kerbside collection,” said Beale.

He highlighted how kerbside collections already returns upwards of a 70% recycling rate in England and an even higher rate in Wales, adding “we simply don’t believe the costs of introducing a new and unknown scheme outweigh the potential gains”.

The question over whether to include glass in a DRS has divided opinion. A recent Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into next steps for a DRS heard evidence that including glass in the scheme could further enhance current recycling rates, with 18% of wasted containers in the UK in 2019 being glass, despite good kerbside collection.

A DRS for Scotland, due to come into effect in July 2022, does includes glass bottles.

Beale also called for industry to have a greater say in shaping collection and return schemes since producers are being asked to bear the costs of collection and recycling. “Industry has had virtually no opportunity to shape the proposed scheme in Edinburgh and the details of the proposed schemes in England are so vague it’s impossible to determine which option – a Deposit and Return Scheme or Extended Producer Responsibility – is going to be the most cost effective, particularly for glass.”

He said government would need industry support in order “to achieve a meaningful outcome” on DRS.

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