Ministers will soon hear key evidence about how a plastic bottle recycling scheme could be implemented in England.
An independent working group has been considering the findings of the government’s recent call for evidence to understand how deposit and reward and return schemes for plastic bottles and other drinks containers could work in England.
It is due to report its findings imminently, a Defra spokesman said.
Environment minister Thérèse Coffey, along with a ministerial delegation, has visited Norway, Sweden and Denmark to find out more about their deposit return schemes (DRS).
In Norway, a small deposit is charged on each drinks bottle and refunded when the empty bottle is returned. A charge of 1 Norwegian Kroner is applied to each standard 500ml bottle - the equivalent of about 10 pence in the UK - and a 2.5 Kroner deposit (25p) on larger bottles.
Stores selling bottled drinks are obliged to collect the empties and retailers receive a small handling fee for this service, while in some supermarkets and larger shops reverse vending machines have been installed. These work by scanning the barcodes of returned bottles and giving consumers shopping vouchers or making a charitable donation in return for the bottles.
This DRS is claimed to be the most effective in the world, with 96% of bottles being returned for plastic recycling.
Similar schemes are also in operation in other Nordic nations, Germany, and some states in the US and Canada.
Members of the working party are also said to be intrigued by the example of Lithuania, which is said to have achieved a 93% return rate in just three years.
“Our commitment to reduce plastic waste is clear – we are the first country in Europe to ban microbeads and our 25 year environment plan set out our plans to extend the 5p plastic bag charge, improve recycling rates and explore plastic free aisles in supermarkets,” the Defra spokesman said.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is concerned about the impact of a DRS, which it claims would be difficult for small stores to manage and unlikely to be used by consumers.
The Scottish government also outlined plans to press ahead with a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans last year.