I know that ministers are committed to delivering a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) as quickly and effectively as possible to boost recycling, tackle plastic pollution and reduce litter.
The aim of public consultations is to test policy proposals for their effectiveness and value for money. Regarding the consultation on Packaging and Packaging Waste: Introducing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), I am aware that England and Northern Ireland will not include glass in their DRS. Responses to the consultation and engagement with stakeholders raised concerns over the inclusion of glass, particularly over the way glass is collected in reverse vending machines (RVMs). I understand that there is the possibility of glass being crushed and mixed with different types of glass, ultimately resulting in poorer quality glass collected for re-melt than is currently collected through existing kerbside recycling streams.
Further, respondents also highlighted the increase in handling costs and equipment complexity that comes from collecting glass bottles in a DRS. RVMs will need to be emptied more frequently and will carry additional safety risks associated with handling broken glass in retail environments. For retailers offering a manual take-back service, glass bottles will require more space to store safely with disproportionate impacts on small retailers. The weight of glass and the potential for breakages also poses consumer health and safety risks over transporting heavy glass bottles to return points.
However, I know that glass drinks bottles will be in the scope of EPR, which will place targets on producers in relation to glass recycling and require them to pay for the cost of managing glass packaging by households. I know that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is working closely with industry and stakeholders on packaging reforms, and their feedback will be considered when the next steps are published soon.