Defra Consultations on Plastic bags and Deposit Return Schemes – Have your say!

I’m trying to follow the progress that Defra (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs)  is making towards their “25 Year Environment Plan”, especially concerning plastic pollution. The current government made promises with the aim “to leave our environment in a better state than we found it”.

25-year-environment-plan

What are they doing?

They are asking “us” for our input. There’s a number of open consultations relating to the 25 Year Plan at the moment. Which can be found at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/consultation_finder/

These include:

Consultation Closing date
Consultation on the proposal to extend the Single-use Plastic bag charge to all retailers and to increase the minimum charge to 10p 22/02/2019
Plastic Packaging Tax 12/05/2019

Consultation on reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system
13/05/2019
Consultation on Consistency in Household and Business Recycling Collections in England 13/05/2019
Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland 13/05/2019
Resource and Waste and Plastic Packaging Tax Consultations 13/05/2019

To be honest, I wish they would just get on with it. To me, it is clear that we have a serious problem caused by over consumption, a throw away society and single use items everywhere. It’s common sense to “turn off the tap” of plastic pollution; levies and deposit schemes should help (but I think we should be stricter and ban items such as plastic bags).

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But, it is also good to get the opinion of us, the people. So, I urge you to do even just one of these surveys. Even answer a few questions and submit.
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I’ve summarised two of the surveys for you below… (with photos)

Consultation on the proposal to extend the Single-use Plastic bag charge to all retailers and to increase the minimum charge to 10p

Questions include:

6

Justification for this change:

“small businesses still circulate an estimated 3.6 billion Single Use Carrier Bags in 2017 alone. Government intervention is required to further reduce use of the bags to further lessen the associated negative impacts”.

What do I think?

Plastic bags should be banned. Full stop.

People throw bags away even when they cost extra. Maybe if they were £1, but I doubt that would make much difference. 

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Reusable plastic bags from large retailers thrown away in a plastic bottle recycling bin

Everyday I see plastic bags in hedgerows, and last weekend I found numerous plastic bags floating in Bristol Harbour. Bags from major retailers, which means they were not free.

 

Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Defra says they aim to introduce a DRS, “it will be easy for consumers to return drinks containers, leading to increased recycling rates and a reduction in littering.”

Some important points:

“UK consumers go through an estimated 14 billion plastic drinks bottles, 9 billion drinks cans and 5 billion glass bottles a year”

“drinks container litter is a serious issue which needs targeted policy action to overcome; with disposable drinks containers, or parts of them, regularly featuring among the most commonly found items on UK beaches”

(I would add ‘the most commonly found items of litter anywhere’).

“The UK Government has committed in its 25 Year Environment Plan for England to reform producer responsibility systems (including packaging waste regulations) to incentivise producers to take greater responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products. This consultation forms part of the government’s action towards meeting that commitment. Moreover, the UK Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy was clear that a DRS could help consumers take more considered action when disposing of products at end of life.”

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What is a deposit return scheme? (DRS)

deposit-and-return-plastic-bottle-machine

Basically, you pay an up front deposit on an item, eg. bottle of coke and when you are done you return it and get your deposit back. The aim is to prevent such items being discarded (littered) or not recycled (put in general waste). A DRS aims to ensure that all single use drinks containers are recycled. Hooray.

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The UK DRS proposal claims to be “ambitious” and would include “all soft drinks (including water and juices), alcoholic drinks and drinks containing milk and plant-based drinks e.g. smoothies, milkshakes, ready-to-drink coffee, flavoured milk and yoghurt drinks (though not standalone milk or plant-based drinks.”

Questions include:

9

11

An interesting question was:

28

(This is looking at whether some retailers would be exempt them from the obligation to host a return point.)

I suggested that this also be based on geographic location and other return points nearby.  Eg. If it is a small shop (that sells drinks), but there are no other return points nearby then that shop should be a return shop. But if a small shop is near to a big supermarket, then it could be exempt. Village shops for example should be return points and be supported. This would help mitigate rural litter.

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I won’t lie to you, there are a lot of questions, but if you don’t know or don’t have an opinion, either leave the question unanswered or select “I don’t know”.

Good Luck.

We need it.

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