Environmental Audit Committee announce enquiry into Deposit Return Schemes

On 12 February, The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) announced an enquiry into the future of Deposit Return Systems (DRS) in England

The enquiry seeks to gather evidence prior to the expected second stage consultations on Deposit Return Schemes, Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and Consistent Collection Frameworks that are due in March 2021.

You can read the full call for evidence information on the UK Parliament website HERE. Evidence must be submitted by Friday 5 March 2021.

What is a Deposit Return Scheme?

A DRS places a small levy on the cost of a drink’s container at the point of sale. This levy is returned to the consumer when they return the empty drinks container to a dedicated collection point. The system is popular elsewhere in the world, notably in a number of European member states. There is a lot of public support for a Deposit Return Scheme as it is thought to drive down litter and engage consumers more in the waste management process.

What is the purpose of the enquiry?

Enquiries such as this ask for evidence on a range of areas that might be impacted by the introduction of a new policy measure. In the first instance, the committee has requested that written evidence relating to DRS is sent through by midday on 5 March. Following this, oral evidence sessions will be held (likely remotely) to allow cross questioning from committee members.

What are the EAC seeking evidence on?

The enquiry asks for any evidence relating to the below areas and how they may be impacted by a Deposit Return Scheme:

  • The types of waste to be collected under the scheme
  • The materials to be included in the scheme’s scope
  • Scheme design (‘all’, ‘be on-the-go’ or other models) and the level and scale of deposit charges
  • The obligations on retailers at all levels (including online-only retailers) to participate in the scheme
  • The effect on scheme design of recent changes in patterns of retail activity
  • The impact of any scheme on existing reuse and recycling and reuse systems
  • The impact of any scheme on local authority kerbside collections and on local authority revenue streams dependent on the value chain of recyclables


  • The potential relationship between Deposit Return Schemes and other packaging waste initiatives promoted under the Resources and Waste Strategy, such as the packaging producer responsibility system and consistency in kerbside collections of dry recyclables
  • How the use of Deposit Return Schemes is likely to affect the UK’s progress towards meeting the targets set in the Resources and Waste Strategy
  • The scope for interoperability between any schemes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be established under Schedule 8 to the Environment Bill and the scheme to be established in Scotland under the Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020
  • The factors which have contributed to the successful implementation of deposit return schemes in other jurisdictions

Next steps and free webinar

Comply Direct will be responding to the call for evidence as a scheme and if our members would like to provide evidence, please email martin@complydirect.com or speak to your account manager directly.

We will be hosting a free webinar on Wednesday 24 February at 10am covering the current outlook of a Deposit Return Scheme, as well as how best to provide evidence to the enquiry. You can register your free place HERE

For any further queries regarding DRS, please contact our policy team – consultation@complydirect.com