Industry support for keeping glass bottles out of a DRS

Industry support for keeping glass bottles out of a DRS

March 24, 2021
Recycled bottles

Over 20 businesses and organisations from across the glass packaging supply chain have today written to the Environment Secretary calling for glass beverage recycling to remain as part of household collections in the future, and not in a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

The letter comes as the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish governments prepare to jointly consult on what beverage packaging will be included in the proposed deposit return schemes, currently being legislated for as part of the Environment Bill.

The letter notes that, while the industry supports the concept of deposit return schemes as a mechanism to increase the recovery of certain types of packaging, it is not the right solution for glass in the UK.

Alarmingly, international evidence suggests that including glass bottles in such a DRS scheme incentivises the use of plastic packaging, leading to an increase in the amount of single use plastics on the market - the very thing we are trying to avoid. At the same time, countries such as Wales, Norway and Sweden have shown it is possible to achieve a circa 90% glass collected for recycling rate through dedicated household and bottle bank collections underpinned by consistent collections that are well communicated to the public

As set out in the letter, the collection of businesses and organisations note that the UK already has a system in place to deliver a high quantity and quality of recycled glass, and it is at our doorsteps. They call on government to keep glass as part of traditional household and bottle bank collections, which is set to benefit from proposals in the Environment Bill to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility and mandate consistent recycling collections in England; putting in place the right measures to increase the quality and quantity of glass recycling for the long-term.

Dave Dalton, CEO of British Glass, commented:

“We all know more needs to be done to increase recycling, tackle litter, and move toward creating a truly circular economy for all packaging formats.

“It is in the interests of glass manufacturers to increase the amount of recycled glass remelted back into new bottles and jars on the market. The British glass industry was an early adopter of circular economy principles for these obvious reasons; it makes economic and environmental sense.

“It is vital that we use the opportunity now to get recycling right for generations to come.  For glass, this means keeping the collection of food and beverage packaging in a single waste stream through improved and consistent household collections, not in a damaging DRS.”

James Calder, Chief Executive of the Society of Independent Brewers said:

“Small brewers care deeply about the environment and want to work with the Government to make the Deposit Return Schemes work, but the inclusion of glass adds an additional complexity and increases the schemes’ costs. It also places a burden on our community pubs and independent taprooms and bottle shops. With a kerbside collection already in place it makes little sense to also include glass in the proposed Deposit Return Schemes.”

Andy Hawker, Head of Logistics at Laithwaites Wine said:

“Here at Laithwaites wine we have always been conscious of our responsibility to the environment, delivering direct to homes; our products already benefit from the excellent UK household recycling services and high glass recycling rates.  The proposed DRS will add significant cost, increase carbon footprint and place an unnecessary regulatory burden upon business and our consumers.”

Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers said:

“The UK spirits industry has been one of the great commercial success stories of the last twelve years, driven by a host of SME businesses. The DRS system now being considered for the UK will prove to be a barrier to market entry for such companies. At Thames Distillers we support the UK adopting the Welsh model for all glass containers.”

Freddie Joosten, Parliamentary Affairs & Environmental Policy Manager at the WSTA said:

“The wine and spirit industry agrees producers should pay the full costs for collecting and recycling its packaging. DRS will hammer our struggling hospitality sector, as it hopefully reopens later this year, and DRS heaps unnecessary pressure on retailers and consumers – all while we have an existing kerbside system that can achieve the 90% target rate without the downsides of DRS. We look forward to working with the UK and devolved administrations to introduce an evidenced based system that improves the quality and quantity of glass collections.”

Adeline Farrelly, Secretary General of the FEVE, the European Container Glass Federation said:

“Our aim is to have people recycling more and better to achieve a 90% collection for recycling rate across Europe and we do not believe that a DRS is the right recycling system for glass. Evidence shows that, unlike improved Extended Producer Responsibility schemes, a DRS will not maximise the quantity and quality of collected glass and could instead put the viability of existing collection and recycling systems at risk.”

Read the full open letter now.