New Populus poll sees UK public supporting an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme

A new landmark poll has revealed that people in the UK will support an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme model with a variable deposit.

The Populus poll was commissioned by Nature 2030, an international coalition of businesses, politicians and campaigners ‘doing right by the environment’ in the 2020s and beyond.

Populus polled 2087 members of the UK public aged 18 and over between 29-31 May this year.

The results show that 84% of the UK public believe all drinks containers should be included in the government’s proposed scheme – up from 69% in May last year.

Additionally, almost four in five people said they believe the scheme should have a variable deposit – a departure from the government’s consultation where some 57% favoured a flat deposit level.

The Scottish government passed legislation in May to introduce its ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme in 2022, and the UK government has committed to introducing a deposit return scheme covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2023.

Campaigners believe an ‘all-in’ scheme with a variable deposit is key to tackling Britain’s waste crisis. They argue a comprehensive scheme capturing as many materials as possible will be easier for consumers to understand and is the most effective model for reducing waste.

However some campaigners have warned the flat deposit could make it more economical for consumers to buy drinks in larger plastic bottles. They have argued that a flat deposit represents a substantial percentage increase on the price of small drinks servings compared to larger servings. They say this could compound the plastic crisis and lead to increased obesity rates by encouraging consumers to purchase larger portions of sugary drinks.

Nevertheless, academics and campaigners have welcomed the results of the poll. A spokesman for the Nature 2030 campaign said: “The Great British Public has spoken.

“With Whitehall set to introduce a deposit return scheme over the next few years, Ministers have got the necessary time to design a system that has the support of consumers across Britain.”

Dr Sian Henley, lecturer in Marine Science at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The survey results show the British public supports the introduction of a deposit return scheme that puts the environment first.

“Making the deposit return scheme as comprehensive as possible ensures no materials will be left to litter our precious seas and coastline for generations to come.”

Dr Laura Foster, head of Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society, said: ““It’s high time the Government takes its lead from the public and introduces a scheme of all sizes and all materials that will give us the best chance to combat litter and plastic pollution once and for all.”

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