North Yorkshire's deposit return scheme for plastic bottles should not be limited, says councillor

A local authority has been urged to reconsider its support to limit the type of drinks containers included in a proposed national deposit return scheme, despite concerns it could lead to further recycling confusion.

Plastic bottles preparing to be recycled

Liberal Democrat councillor Bryn Griffiths said North Yorkshire County Council should be calling on the Government to target the majority of drinks containers as part of its drive to improve its environmental credentials.

Coun Griffiths, who called on the Conservative-led authority in 2018 to ban the use of single-use plastics, was speaking as leading councillors and officers agreed to recommend limiting the scheme to ‘on-the-go’ drinks containers up to 750ml.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The proposed deposit return scheme aims to reduce the amount of littering, boost recycling levels for relevant material, increase the collection of high quality materials, and promote recycling through clear labelling.

If the Government decides to pursue a deposit return scheme, it has been forecast recycling rates in the UK for drink containers which would be eligible would rise from around 70 per cent to more than 90 per cent.

Environmentalists say such a move would start to address man-made debris in the marine and natural environments.

However, county council officers said limiting the type of bottles included in the deposit return scheme would target drinks containers most often sold for consumption outside of the home.

An officers’ report states: “An on-the-go deposit return scheme would have lower net costs, have minimal impact on kerbside collections as consumers would continue to deposit large drinks containers in their kerbside system without losing their deposit, and evidence suggests that smaller drinks containers are more commonly littered than larger ones.”

Nevertheless, it added the on-the-go approach increased the risk of confusion among consumers regarding the size of drinks container in the scheme and would limits the quantity of high quality recyclate.

Coun Griffiths said the council should be supporting a scheme whereby drinks containers up to three litres are in scope, to target the majority of drinks containers.

He said: “It doesn’t matter what size the bottles are, including all bottles is going to lead to greater recyclate.

Coun Griffiths said teams of volunteers were collecting vast amounts of litter from roadsides and that the volume of plastic bottles was impacting on wildlife.

He said: “There’s certainly a big issue in North Yorkshire with people throwing them out of car windows. If there was an incentive like there is in Germany to return bottles that would encourage people not to do so or at least make them think.”