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Deposit Return Schemes (DRS)

How does Norway achieve a 97% recycling rate for plastic drinks bottles? The answer is a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS); deposit fees are charged alongside the purchase of drinks containers, which are reimbursed when a container is returned to a recycling point.

DRS currently operate in 10 European countries, and in Australia, Canada and the USA, and is coming soon to the UK. A Scottish DRS has been consulted on and is scheduled to be implemented in 2021, while a consultation for a DRS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is currently ongoing.

It is hoped that the introduction of a DRS will significantly increase the 43% recycling rate for plastic bottles in the UK. It has already been proven that small fees can change people’s behaviour; the introduction of the 5p charge for single-use plastic bags reduced their usage by 85% within 6 months. DRS deposit fees are likely to range from 8p to 35p, based on current schemes in Europe.

ecoVeritas has undertaken consultancy on international DRS and the proposed Scottish DRS. We have insights into obligations for retailers including financial flows, labelling requirements and involvement in container take back.

Example of DRS bottles

How we can help you:

  • Provide expert advice on current and proposed DRS
  • Advise you on how you are obligated as a retailer, importer or distributor
  • Calculate the total number of obligated products you handle
  • Advise you on how to fulfil take back requirements

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