The British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) has dismissed proposals to introduce a deposit refund scheme for bottles and cans as an extremely expensive way to tackle the waste problem.
Earlier in the week the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) published research indicating that making consumers pay a small deposit for containers would persuade them to recycle.
According to its estimates, a deposit of 15p for containers smaller than 500ml and 30p for larger ones would lead to 90 per cent being returned for recycling.
The rural charity estimated that the public sector could save £160m a year as a result of the reductions in waste created by a deposit scheme. Set against this would be start-up costs of £84m and running costs of £700m a year.
It said the significant costs of administering the deposit scheme would be met with unclaimed deposits and by the drinks industry. At 90 per cent return rates, the CPRE said the unclaimed deposits would cover 70 per cent of system costs.
However, this estimate did little to reassure the British drinks industry. The BSDA said in a statement: “The CPRE report bears out our view that a deposit scheme would be an extremely expensive way to try and deal with the problem of litter and recycling.”
Evidence from other countries suggests that mandatory deposit schemes can have a negative impact on sales. Following the introduction of deposits on non-refillable plastic and metal containers in Germany at the beginning of 2003, market researchers Canadean said sales of carbonates that year fell almost 8 per cent despite an unusually hot summer.
Instead of a deposit scheme, the BSDA recommends making continued improvements to kerbside recycling as 70 per cent of soft drinks packaging is thrown away at home. Last year there was a 27 per cent rise in kerbside collection of plastic bottles.
The trade association also supports a rolling out of collection facilities to encourage more recycling by people on the go.