Statement from Alupro and MPMA on DRS

The metal packaging industry in the UK has issued a statement expressing concern, as government consultation confirms that glass will be excluded from DRS in England…

See the statement in full:

The metal packaging sector has always been extremely supportive of a well-planned DRS system for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, this is not it. 

The exclusion of glass from the Government’s Deposit Return Scheme for England is an unacceptable outcome for metal drinks containers and flies in the face of the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto which pledged a DRS to include glass and plastic drinks containers. 

It also contradicts DEFRA’s own DRS impact assessments, published in March 2021 as part of its “Consultation on Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland”, in which the Department calculated that the net present value of a DRS including glass was £5,885 million, whereas without glass it was only £3,582 million. As a consequence, DEFRA concluded in the consultation that glass should be included.

If there were no common products packed in both glass and other materials, there would be far less of a problem, but this is not the case. By excluding glass from its DRS, the Government has knowingly given the material an unfair competitive advantage at the point of sale. 

Consumers will be able to choose between a drinks container that carries a deposit and will have to be returned for that deposit to be redeemed, and a container that can just be placed in any recycle bin after use. One option is extremely convenient, the other far less so.

By enforcing this decision, the Government will unfairly create an unlevel playing field for metal packaging which has among the highest recycling rates of any drinks packaging material – including glass.

In addition, as dealing with ground litter has been removed from the EPR proposals for England, by taking glass out of the DRS the Government has removed any additional means of dealing with littered glass, a problem that many groups beyond can making are extremely concerned about.

In the DEFRA report’s response analysis, 70% of people supported the proposed scope (i.e. glass in). This support now appears to have increased according to research conducted in December 2022 for  Nature2030 which showed that three quarters of people now support the inclusion of glass.

Many very successful DRS schemes around the world include glass, and much closer to home both Scotland and Wales plan to include glass in their own DRS. The question has to be asked, if many other countries are doing it, why can’t we? 

MPMA has also expressed concerns over the consultation process as Director and Chief Executive Robert Fell comments:

“MPMA believes that the consultation process which led to the decision to exclude glass was potentially flawed and several of our members are asking whether a judicial review should be sought. 

“The exclusion of glass was introduced untested by DEFRA in the second round of the consultation and as such was not subjected to the much wider industry scrutiny and further consultation required.

“The introduction of a scheme that disadvantages a material with such strong sustainability credentials, including an enviable recycling rate, is unacceptable and the Government needs to think again, keep its promise to the electorate, and revert to the scheme that its own impact assessment calculated would provide the most benefit.”

Tom Giddings, Executive Director, Alupro said:

“As an industry, we’re always looking for new and innovative solutions to increase recycling rates and embrace the circular packaging economy of tomorrow. The considered roll-out of a well-designed deposit return scheme could – and should – have contributed to this. Unfortunately, as per the concerns outlined within our pioneering Aluminium Manifesto (March ‘22), it looks increasingly likely that hugely disruptive market change will occur.”

“As we enter a period of discussion and (hopefully) co-operation on how to roll-out this system, Alupro will be engaging intensely with the government and emergent scheme administrators. We want to ensure not only that any further risks can be avoided, for example by encouraging the adoption of a variable rate of deposit by size, but that the system embraces all the elements needed for it to be a success including innovative consumer engagement (for example through a programme like Every Can Counts which has already engaged millions around the UK to drive up drinks can recycling to 82% in 2021) to increase participation.

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