UK aluminium packaging industry supply chain trade group Alupro sent a letter to Thérèse Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Environment, this week advocating for an immediate move to ensure that the current deposit return scheme (DRS) increases aluminium recycling rates but does not compromise the British market.
Alupro notes that the new DRS, which is planned to begin in the fall of 2025, will see a deposit added to the price of beverage products at retail locations. The deposit will be returned to the consumer once the packaging is returned to a collection point.
The objection registered by Alupro for the plan is that a DRS will damage the Scottish market for aluminium and push buyers to buying plastic beverage containers instead. Although the government has consulted with stakeholders about the DRS, Alupro says it is still concerned that the plan will harm aluminium beverage packaging producers. The association urges immediate collaborative action to prevent the implementation of a harmful DRS.
Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, remarked extensively on the issue in a related press release.
“As such, we have outlined four key priorities which must be implemented in the next stage of the scheme’s development to ensure it supports the thriving aluminium packaging and recycling sector.”
“Firstly, a variable rate of deposit based on container volume is essential for a successful DRS that maximises environmental impact and minimises economic harm for industry,” he continued. “They are used in the most successful schemes globally and prevent the perverse incentive for consumers to buy more plastic bottles.
Giddings continued by saying that a DRS must be fair and level, which means that all competing materials should have a similar deposit.
“Thirdly, it’s imperative that DRS promotes the development of a circular economy by facilitating the recycling of packaging. When it comes to infinitely recyclable aluminium, for example, material collected through the scheme should be returned to the packaging system– as is the case currently.”
“Finally, encouraging widespread consumer participation will prove crucial to maximising recycling rates. From our experience over the past 30 years, we’ve seen that well-designed and engaging programmes like Every Can Counts have been essential to achieving high recycling rates. Programmes like this can ensure recycling ambitions are realised by educating consumers on the importance of recycling properly. Government should ask applicants for the scheme administrator role to clearly demonstrate their approach to promoting the scheme and working with providers like Alupro who can share their expertise,” he concluded.