Councillors from the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group have welcomed today’s announcement by the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, that a deposit return scheme is to be introduced in England for all drinks containers.
Last year, Councillors Penny Otton (Lib Dem) and Robert Lindsay (Green) proposed a motion calling on Suffolk County Council to publicly support the introduction of a deposit return scheme and offer Suffolk as a pilot area if needed. The motion was a great success, receiving unanimous support from councillors. Furthermore, Cllr Lindsay persuaded the council to address its own plastic use, which has resulted in the eradication of single-use plastic from the Endeavour House canteen.
Cllr Otton has also signed a cross-party letter to the Secretary of State, along with councillors from local authorities across the country, calling for the introduction of a deposit return scheme.
The LDGI group are therefore delighted that Michael Gove has heeded the calls of campaigners and will be introducing a national deposit return scheme. Speaking in response to the news today, Cllr Penny Otton commented:
“This is fantastic news for England and for Suffolk. It’s about time we did something about our shockingly low recycling rates, and a deposit return scheme is an excellent place to start.
When I proposed this motion last year, I described the horrendous damage that plastic waste causes to our coastal environments here in Suffolk. We’re seeing the consequences of low recycling rates 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.
I was delighted to receive the support of all councillors last year. It is up to us all now to keep the pressure on Mr Gove and ensure that this new scheme is a success.”
Similar deposit return schemes in other countries have increased recycling rates to more than 90%. The Government’s plans will be subject to a consultation this year that will examine the details of how such a scheme would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates.
The motion, presented to council on 7 December 2017, read:
This Council which has the ambition to be “the Greenest county”, congratulates the Secretary of State 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 (available from link below) 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).
Suffolk is ranked as the second-best performer out of 32 Waste Disposal Authorities in two tier areas for the recycling of dry-recyclables so we will always welcome any proposals brought forward to further improve our performance.
The Council will look favourably upon any pilot proposals and will seek to participate where we believe the pilot would help to improve environmental outcomes and reduce costs in Suffolk and we ask that the cabinet member for the environment writes to the Secretary of State to support his proposal.