Most people support UK-wide deposit return scheme, poll finds

Three out of five people want a UK-wide deposit return scheme (DRS) to be set up, while less than a quarter favour different initiatives being established in the four nations of the UK.

A poll found that across the UK, 75% of people back the introduction of DRS, with only 6% opposed to the measure.

The Scottish Government had to abandon plans to set up its own DRS last year after a row with Westminster over whether glass bottles could be included, but only 24% of people backed the idea of individual schemes running in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Polling by the Diflley Partnership, carried out for Tomra Collection, which manufactures reverse vending machines used in such schemes, found 60% of people want a single DRS running across all of the UK.

Tomra’s John Lee said people ‘strongly support’ deposit return schemes (Jamie Simpson/Tomra/PA)
Tomra’s John Lee said people ‘strongly support’ deposit return schemes (Jamie Simpson/Tomra/PA)

It had been hoped a DRS – which sees shoppers charged a small deposit when buying drinks in cans and bottles, with this cash then returned when they bring the empty container back for recycling – would be up and running by October 2025.

However the UK Government announced in April that a “revised timeline” has now been agreed which will see a DRS operational by October 2027.

The polling found 90% of people would use a DRS – with 45% saying they would do so all the time and 45% saying they would use it “sometimes”.

That came as 85% of people said litter is a problem in their area, while 81% of those questioned said they have made changes to their lifestyle in response to climate change.

John Lee, Tomra vice-president for public affairs in the UK and Ireland, said: “Public opinion and environmental concerns strongly support the deposit return scheme, signalling a widespread demand for action.

“As we face issues like litter, climate change and sustainability, it’s obvious that we need significant changes now.”

Mhairi McFarlane, research manager at the Diffley Partnership, which questioned 2,042 people between March 26 and April 2 for the study, said: “It is clear that environmental concerns are on the public’s minds, with more than two-thirds reporting they are worried about the impact of climate change, and that the vast majority view litter as a problem across the UK.

“In that context, it is perhaps unsurprising that three-quarters of people support a deposit return scheme and 90% would use such a scheme at least sometimes.”