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Alupro warns of ‘tidal wave’ of plastic from flat fee DRS

By 28/01/2021News

The UK may face a “tidal wave” of plastic if it implements a “poorly designed” Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), according to the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro).

Alupro assessed a flat rate DRS system with a variable rate deposit fee system

According to a report launched by Alupro, a flat rate DRS where an equal deposit is charged on all beverage containers could see UK supermarket shelves “awash” with plastic packaging, which would replace “billions of endlessly recyclable beverage cans”.

The report, launched in partnership with business management consultancy London Economics, analysed a flat rate versus a variable rate deposit fee, which would see containers allocated with a deposit value based on container size.

The organisation described the flat rate approach as “unsophisticated” as it could see customers charged an additional £4.80 for a 24-can multipack, compared to 80p for a 2 litre plastic bottle.

The research shows this would result in 60% of shoppers opting for larger plastic alternatives to avoid facing the initial extra cost, even though it would later be able to be claimed.

Plant closures

According to Alupro, the fixed fee model would also result in 10% lower return volumes, however a variable rate system would see the government achieve a 90% return rate “almost a year earlier”, leading to a higher recycling rate.

It added that demand for aluminium cans would likely fall by 11%, which would hit the industry with “an annual production shortfall” of 4.7 billion units and a “very real possibility” of plant closures.

The report concluded that with shoppers substituting convenient multipacks for cost-effective but “impractical” large bulk containers, the UK could see a “significant increase” in portion sizes, or experience an immediate and unnecessary hike in product waste.

‘Tidal wave’

Rick Hindley, executive director at Alupro, said that the organisations concern is that “simplicity will override sustainability”, and is urging the government to take the report’s statistics into “close consideration”.

He explained: “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 tidal wave of unnecessary plastic – a key issue that the scheme is fundamentally trying to solve. If the UK adopted a variable rate DRS, demand for plastic would drop notably”.

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Source: Plastic