Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Closed 13 May 2019

Opened 18 Feb 2019


Purpose of the consultation

Your responses to this consultation will help us to consider the merits of introducing a DRS. The aim of the UK and Welsh Government and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland (DAERA) is to ensure that, should a DRS be introduced, it will be easy for consumers to return drinks containers, leading to increased recycling rates and a reduction in littering. Following the passage of DRS-related legislation, there will be a short period of further formal consultation on specific regulatory measures in early 2020.

Geographical extent and definitions

While waste policy is a devolved responsibility, and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Administrations can decide policy separately, we want to ensure as far as possible that our approach to DRS forms part of a coherent UK-wide system. The UK Government and Devolved Administrations are therefore working closely together on this policy area. This consultation is being undertaken jointly by the UK and Welsh Governments and DAERA.

Wales is a high recycling society. Since 2002, there has been significant investment in kerbside collection of materials including drinks containers which has seen around 75% of plastic bottles captured for recycling. The Welsh Government is keen to increase this but wants to understand whether introducing a DRS is the most appropriate way of doing this. We may undertake some additional targeted engagement in Wales to understand more about how a DRS will impact on local authority collection of materials, how it will impact on citizens grocery bills and in particular those from lower socio-economic groups as well as other issues such as carbon emissions from increased transport and movement. We would be keen to hear from respondents about the impacts of a DRS in Wales. 

The Welsh Government will consider the responses to this consultation, as well as undertaking further impact assessment work, before deciding on whether and how to implement a DRS in Wales. In Wales, the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act became law on 29th April 2015. This means that public bodies, including the Welsh Government, will need to ensure that when making their decisions they take into account the impact they could have on people living their lives in Wales in the future.

The Scottish Government launched a consultation on the options for distinct elements of a DRS on beverage containers, which closed on 25 September 2018.

As the Northern Ireland Assembly is not currently sitting, the UK Government, in discussion with DAERA, is consulting on their behalf because of the historic UK-wide approach to packaging producer responsibility. Officials in DAERA have informed Defra that they have no evidence that Northern Ireland stakeholders or Ministers would not wish to participate in a consultation on options for a DRS.


This consultation is primarily aimed at:

  • Businesses that produce, sell or import drinks in single use containers.
  • Organisations involved in the management and recycling of packaging waste including local authorities, waste management companies, brokers and exporters and UK reprocessors.
  • Packaging compliance schemes. 
  • Other organisations such as professional and membership organisations, NGOs, consultants and charitable/voluntary bodies who have an interest in packaging and how packaging waste is managed in the UK.
  • The public.

Responding to this consultation

The UK Government is managing the consultation process on behalf of the Welsh Government and DAERA.

Please respond to this consultation in one of the following ways:

Online using the Online Survey button on the bottom of this page.

By email to:

If you would like to send a copy of your response to the Welsh Government, this can be sent to

If responding from Northern Ireland please copy your response to  

Or in writing to:

Deposit Return Scheme Team
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,
Ground Floor, Seacole Block,
2 Marsham Street,
London, SW1P 4DF


This consultation will run for 12 weeks. This is in line with the Cabinet Office’s ‘Consultation Principles’ which advises government departments to adopt proportionate consultation procedures. The consultation opens 18 February 2019. Please note that this consultation will close at 23:59 on 13th May.

After the consultation

A summary of the responses to this consultation will be published and placed on the government websites at, and

The summary will include a list of names and organisations that responded but not personal names, addresses or other contact details. However, information provided in response to this consultation document, including personal information, may be subject to publication or release to other parties or to disclosure in accordance with the access to information regimes e.g. Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Data Protection Act 2018.

If you want information, including personal data that you provide to be treated as confidential, please say so clearly in writing when you send your response to the consultation and explain why you need these details to be kept confidential.

If we receive a request for disclosure under the FOIA, we will take full account of your explanation, but due to the law we cannot provide an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as a confidentiality request.

Defra is the data controller in respect of any personal data that you provide, and Defra’s Personal Information Charter, which gives details of your rights in respect of the handling of your personal data, can be found at:

Compliance with the consultation principles

This Consultation is being conducted in line with the Consultation Principles set out in the Better Regulation Executive guidance which can be found at:

Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal data, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the access to information regimes these are primarily the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). We have obligations, mainly under the EIRs, FOIA and DPA, to disclose information to particular recipients or to the public in certain circumstances.

If you want the information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, as a public authority, the Department is bound by the Freedom of Information Act and may therefore be obliged to disclose all or some of the information you provide. In view of this it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the Department.

The Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs will process your personal data in accordance with the law and in the majority of circumstances this will mean that your personal data will not be disclosed to third parties.

After the consultation, a summary of the responses to this consultation will be published and placed on the government website at

If you have any comments or complaints about the consultation process, please address them to:

By e-mail:

Or in writing to:
Consultation Co-ordinator, Defra,
1C, Nobel House,
17 Smith Square,
London SW1P 3JR

Other linked consultations

Alongside this consultation there are three parallel consultations taking place:

  • A reformed UK packaging producer responsibility system that includes incentivising the recyclability of packaging and uses the money raised through the system to fund better collections, recycling infrastructure and communications; encourages domestic recycling; has tighter compliance monitoring and enforcement including of export regulations; and makes it easier for consumers to recycle packaging materials. The consultation includes higher UK packaging recycling targets post-2020.
  • Consistency in Household and Business Recycling Collections in England that includes measures to achieve consistent collections and recycling from households and businesses in England. The measures include the requirement for local authorities to collect a core set of dry recyclable materials, to introduce separate food waste collections and free garden waste collections. For businesses, we will consult on measures such as a requirement for eligible businesses to segregate their dry recycling from residual waste so that it can be collected, and for food producing businesses to have arrangements for separate food waste collection. This consultation covers England only.
  • Plastic packaging tax in which HM Treasury is seeking views on the design of a brand new tax on the production and import of plastic packaging that doesn’t include at least 30% recycled content. This was announced at Budget 2018, and will be implemented in April 2022.

We recognise that any potential DRS would need to work alongside the wider producer responsibility and recycling systems in operation in this country (including any potential changes to them). We have considered the overlaps between these policy areas and have chosen to consult at the same time to reflect this. You may wish to respond to these linked consultations which can be found as follows:

As mentioned, one alternative to introducing a DRS would be for all drinks containers to instead be captured under a reformed packaging producer responsibility system.

The Welsh Government’s guidance on consistency in high quality Local Authority recycling collections was included in the Collections Blueprint published in 2011.  It plans to consult in 2019 on options for new regulations that will include a requirement for businesses to present dry recyclables and food waste separately, using powers provided in the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 – Part 4. 

If you would like to keep in contact with us to express interest in this, or any other Defra consultation, please give us your details through the link below



  • Charities/Voluntary Organisations
  • Environmental campaigners
  • Food Business Operators
  • Food Industry
  • Government Departments
  • Government Agencies
  • Devolved Administrations
  • Local Authorities
  • Consumer Groups
  • Waste Producers and Handlers
  • Local Authorities
  • Producer Compliance Schemes
  • Waste Management Companies
  • Retail Industry
  • Manufacturing Industry
  • Member of the General Public


  • Green infrastructure
  • Waste and recycling
  • Local environments