Councillors at Suffolk County Council have unanimously supported a motion calling on the government to radically rethink the way we recycle by adopting a Deposit Return Scheme, and have expressed a desire to be considered for a pilot scheme.
The motion was proposed by the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group on 7 December 2017. During the debate, Green Party Councillor Robert Lindsay also urged the Council to investigate its own plastic policy, citing the extortionate amount of plastic wasted in the canteen at Endeavour House. Chairman Stephen Burroughs and Suffolk County Council’s Interim Chief Executive agreed to examine this concern.
Councillor Robert Lindsay stated:
“Suffolk has the ambition to become ‘the Greenest County’, and high recycling rates must be part of that goal. I am very proud of the unanimous support this motion received. It is also fantastic that the Council will be leading by example, starting with an investigation into the use of plastic cutlery in our canteen.”
Councillor Penny Otton, who proposed the motion, commented:
“It is shameful that, as a country, we only recycle 57% of our plastic bottles in the UK. We’re seeing the consequences of this now along our beautiful Suffolk coastline, where a shocking 13% increase in litter is harming both the coastal ecosystem and our value as a tourist destination. A Deposit Return Scheme would dramatically increase the rate of recycling, and so protect Suffolk’s coastline.”
Deposit Return Schemes provide an incentive for consumers to recycle plastic bottles, by reimbursing a small deposit when bottles are returned to a recycling centre. Following a DEFRA consultation, big industry names such as Coca Cola, Iceland and the Co-op have already pledged support for the introduction of a mandatory national Scheme.
These “reward and return schemes” are already in place across Europe, including in Germany and Denmark, and evidence suggests they are an effective recycling method. The recycling rate for countries with a Deposit Return Scheme stands at over 90%, whilst Britain currently recycles just 57% of plastic bottles.
Full text of the motion is as follows:
“This Council, which has the ambition to be “the Greenest county”, congratulates the Minister for the Environment, Michael Gove, on his initiative to look at introducing a plastic bottle return scheme.
It is a well established fact that plastic is one of the worst pollutants of the environment.
A recent report to the Government by Eunomia showed that a deposit return scheme would lead to savings of between £62,000 and £495,000 for any local authority that introduces it, by reducing the authority’s waste handling costs. It would also send a strong message that plastics are not for single use and would significantly cut the amount of plastic ending up in the marine environment, endangering our sea life.
The Council also notes that recycling rates for plastic bottles in Britain stands at 57% – in comparison to over 90% in countries that have a Deposit Return Scheme (e.g. Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark).
Therefore we ask that the Cabinet Member for the Environment writes to the Environment Minister to support this proposal. If this is not introduced nationally, then we ask that the Cabinet Member for the Environment invite the Minister to use Suffolk as a pilot area.”