Eunomia Research & Consulting was commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to investigate the environmental and financial implications of the introduction of a UK-wide deposit refund system (DRS).

In April 2008, CPRE launched its Stop the Drop campaign against litter and flytipping, with the twin aims of getting existing litter picked up and preventing further litter being dropped. As part of the campaign it worked with Policy Exchange in 2009 to publish Litterbugs: How to deal with the problem of littering, which detailed a suite of proposals for addressing litter.

One of the key recommendations of that report was for the introduction of a national deposit scheme, linked into broader waste and recycling policies, in light of the research findings that deposit refund schemes (DRSs) significantly reduce litter and help to promote virtuous cycles of behaviour.

Discussion regarding DRSs is often polarised between the views of ardent supporters, and those of equally vehement opponents. The available theoretical literature, however, suggests that such schemes are an efficient means of increasing recycling rates and reducing litter, though a key issue in moving from theory to practice is determining the costs of administering and implementing the scheme.

The aim of this report was to investigate the costs and benefits of a UK-wide DRS and advance the debate on the benefits and disadvantages of DRSs. Through bottom-up modelling, we sought to answer the following question:

‘How do the benefits of introducing a UK-wide DRS for certain beverage container packaging compare with the costs of implementation and operation?’

This report is available free of charge. Please provide a few details about yourself and one of the team will email you the full report shortly.