Alupro warn of aluminium plant closures
The aluminium industry faces plant closures if the ‘poorly designed’ Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is adopted, the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) has warned.
The DRS aims to tackle plastic pollution, increase recycling rates, improve recyclate quality and minimise littler in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is due to come into force in 2023.
The scheme will see a deposit value added to the price of a beverage product in store, which will be refunded to the customer when empty packaging is returned to a designated collection point.
Alupro launched an extensive report analysing the impact of the national scheme, developed in partnership with independent think-tank London Economics.
The report found that the UK’s aluminium industry, which employs more than 20,000 workers nationwide, would be stung with an annual production shortfall of 4.7 billion units and the very real possibility of plant closures if the UK adopts a flat rate DRS.
While a variable rate fee would see containers allocated with a deposit value based on container size, a flat rate model would apply a fixed fee to all beverage containers.
This unsophisticated approach could see customers charged an additional £4.80 for a 24-can multipack (on top of product purchase price) compared to just 80p for a 2 litre plastic bottle, which research suggests would result in 60% of shoppers opting for larger, cheaper, but much less sustainable plastic alternatives – resulting in an immediate decline in demand (c.11%) for easy-to-recycle aluminium cans.
Rick Hindley, executive director at Alupro, commented: “While we are fully supportive of a well-designed DRS, research surrounding best practice design is limited. Our report aims to fill the gap and provide extensive modelling into the real-world implications of differing deposit fee options.
“While some may think that a flat rate deposit fee would be easier to implement, this isn’t necessarily the case. What’s more, it would result in a whole host of negative implications – a number of which the scheme is fundamentally trying to solve. Our concern is that simplicity will override sustainability in senior-level decision making. As such, we are imploring the government to take our statistics and modelling into close consideration when discussing the design of the UK’s DRS.”
To download a copy of the report, visit https://alupro.org.uk/sustainability/