Deposit Refund Schemes (DRS) have always been a key part of our work, and have become even more relevant with the recent interest in the area.

With countries across Europe aiming for more ambitious recycling targets and assessing how they can help tackle marine litter, and some beverage companies looking to increase the recycled content of their containers, DRSs are becoming a more widely explored solution. With an intricate DRS model developed over a number of years and an archive of in-depth research that looks at regulatory approaches and funding options in different DRS designs in very different countries, we are now the world’s leader in DRS: read on to find out about some of our most recent work.

Back in 2015 we produced a report for Zero Waste Scotland on the feasibility of implementing a nation-wide Scottish scheme. Using our bespoke DRS model, we concluded that the monetary value of environmental benefits greatly outweighed the financial costs. In addition to the financial impacts and the environmental benefits, the report considered labelling options, fraud prevention measures, and the implications for the Packaging Recovery Note System.

In October 2017, we were commissioned by Campaign to Protect Rural England and Keep Britain Tidy, among others, to produce a report examining the financial impact a DRS would have on local authority waste services in England. The report found that overall local authorities stand to benefit from deposit refund schemes for glass and plastic bottles as well as aluminium cans, with individual authorities predicted to save between £60,000-£500,000, and councils in England saving up to £35m in total, more than offsetting the loss of revenue seen from the resulting drop in kerbside recycling. The report examined a wide range of the other impacts of DRSs, covering sorting, material revenues, residual treatment and disposal, and street scene and litter.

Further from home, we contributed to ENT Environment and Management’s plan for a Catalonian deposit scheme. Commissioned by the Catalan Waste Industry, the report found that the introduction of a DRS would increase recycling of beverage containers to just under 95%; save 16.9 million euros annually; and reduce beverage container related littering from 1280 tonnes to 173 tonnes per year.

It is likely DRS will become more common in the future as Member States aim to reach more ambitious recycling targets as outlined in the European Commission’s updated Circular Economy Package. We have advised on the pros and cons of private and public-sector run deposit refunds; on the implications of centralised and de-centralised systems; and the impact of reverse vending machines on logistics, fraud, costs and, of course, the environment. We have helped set up deposit refund schemes from scratch;  advised on updating existing DRSs; and are in the process of advising private, public, and third-sector ventures across the world on how to implement the latest developments.

Deposit refund schemes can help solve the crucial environmental issues of marine litter, waste, and have a huge impact on improving recycling rates.  For more information about DRS contact Senior Consultant Orla Woods.