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UK government delays DRS scheme by two years

  • Market: Petrochemicals
  • 25/04/24

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed the national UK deposit return scheme (DRS) launch has been delayed from Autumn 2025 to October 2027.

The DRS will introduce a deposit on single-use drinks containers, which is refunded on the return of the container.

In the policy statement led by Robbie Moore, the minister for water and rural growth, confirmed alignment in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales on joint registration and reporting, labelling, reciprocal returns, deposit level and minimum container size.

In-scope materials remain an outstanding issue. PET bottles, steel and aluminium cans are included in all administrations. But the current Welsh DRS plans differ on scope of materials, with the addition of the inclusion of glass containers.

"As stated in the consultation response published in January 2023, launching a DRS in October 2025 was a stretching target date. Additional time will be needed to efficiently and effectively roll out the schemes across the UK," Moore said.

The DRS is expected to be implemented in three phases. Phase 1 includes the confirmation of regulations and or Deposit Management Organisations (DMO) to be appointed. Phase 2 allows time for DMOs to work with the industry to provide information needed to prepare for the launch of the DRS. Phase 3 encompasses the time businesses need to make changes for the implementation of the DRS. Under the new timeline, Phase 1 is anticipated to be completed by spring 2025, Phase 2 is planned between spring 2025 and 2026, and Phase 3 will occur between spring 2026 and autumn 2027.

The government also announced plans to introduce extended producer responsibility for packaging.

According to DEFRA, DRS is expected to boost recycling levels for in-scope containers to over 90pc by the third year of implementation. Nearly 60 schemes are due to be in operation internationally by the end of 2024.


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