MPMA, Alupro collectively criticize “unacceptable” plans for DRS

UK – The Metal Packaging Manufacturers’ Association (MPMA) and Alupro have united to criticize the government’s planned rollout of a deposit return scheme (DRS).

The industry bodies said that the exclusion of glass is “unacceptable” and “flies in the face of the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto which pledged a DRS to include glass and plastic drinks containers”.

Both organizations said that the move contradicts Defra’s own impact assessments. The bodies highlight Defra’s calculation that the net present value of a DRS including glass was £5.885bn, whereas without glass it was only £3.582bn.

In a statement, the MPMA and Alupro said: “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.”

MPMA director and chief executive Robert Fell said: “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.”

Fell added: “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.”

Meanwhile, Tony McGurk CEO of re-universe said the government should have gone with a Digital DRS instead of the traditional Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) system.

“re-universe welcomes the introduction of a much-needed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) across the UK, yet the Government’s recent decision to opt for a traditional Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) system is utterly out of touch with the needs of the public, industry, environment, and the government’s own ambition to drive UK innovation,” said McGurk.

“The real DRS opportunity lies with a Digital DRS, which would use unique coding to track and trace every individual drinks container included in the scheme, bringing six key benefits above that of an RVM model: consumer convenience and inclusivity; traceability and transparency; lower cost; flexibility; reduced carbon footprint; and future proofing.”

The desire for a digital scheme is also supported by research conducted by Queen’s University Belfast based on the re-universe Digital DRS trial in Whitehead Northern Ireland, a clear and strong preference towards Digital DRS was evident.

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