‘Six long years of dither and delay’: the countryside charity reacts as DRS is pushed back to 2024… at best

We had hoped the DRS might result in a lot less of this (pic Brian Yurasits/Unsplash)

The much-anticipated deposit return scheme (DRS) is to be delayed until at least 2024, sparking a sharp response from CPRE Kent, the countryside charity.
It was three years ago almost to the day that then-Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced we would all be paying a deposit of up to 22 pence on plastic and glass bottles, as well as on aluminium cans. That deposit could, of course, be reclaimed.
It was suggested the DRS might arrive as early as 2020, although a year later the government said it would be brought in for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2023.
However, yesterday (Thursday, March 24), in announcing a second DRS consultation, the government said such a scheme would not be introduced until late 2024, at the earliest. Unsurprisingly, this has not gone down well with the countryside charity, which has campaigned long and hard for a DRS.
Tom Fyans, CPRE campaigns and policy director, said before the announcement was made: “‘Despite huge public appetite to tackle the waste crisis, we have mountains of litter piling up in our countryside.
“New research shows that around eight billion drinks containers are landfilled, littered or burnt every year. Despite all this, the government looks set to delay a deposit return scheme until the end of 2024 – essentially shirking its responsibility and waiting for a new government to show any leadership on the issue. This amounts to six long years of dither and delay.
“This delay is so much more than kicking the can down the road – it seems that in the face of industry lobbying, ministers would prefer to stick their heads in the sand rather than tackle the problem of waste head on. 
“The public want to see action, not just warm words. The evidence is clear that an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme is the best option for people, planet and our economy, yet the government is showing no leadership on the issue at all.
“It beggars belief that when the evidence is so clear that an ‘all-in’ deposit system is needed, it is still unwilling to make the polluter pay.”

Thursday, March 25, 2021

How lockdown drove more people to the countryside… and produced more litter

Volunteers display discarded tins and bottles picked up at Graveney during a CPRE Green Clean

It can’t come as a surprise to anyone who loves the countryside that one of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a shocking increase in litter.
More than a third of adults in England (38 per cent) have seen more litter near to where they live since the start of the pandemic and more than three-quarters (76 per cent) have noticed more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) being littered, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by CPRE, the countryside charity.
Four in five people (78 per cent) would like to see the government take more action to tackle the scourge of litter. CPRE is therefore calling on the government not to delay and stick to its original timetable for a fully inclusive Deposit Return Scheme to reduce waste and litter and boost recycling.
CPRE has highlighted the poll’s three main findings:
•          The pandemic has shone a light on our throwaway culture and England’s broken waste and litter system
•          The government needs to do far more to tackle litter and support local authorities to create comprehensive refuse and recycling systems
•          This includes tackling PPE littering by promoting the benefits of reusable masks where possible and encouraging people to dispose of any single-use masks responsibly

Commenting on the findings, Isla Lester, nine-year-old anti-litter advocate and CPRE Green Clean participant, said:
“I think more people should litter-pick and think before they act, so the world can be much cleaner, much faster. This could be tackled in two ways: educationally and practically.
“It would be good if environmental issues were part of school lessons. Children need to be shown what polluting our planet really does. We need to see it for ourselves by going outside – having trips to the sea to look at the impact that litter has on beaches and sea life, and then doing things like litter-picking.
“I think local businesses should also help by putting things in place to not add to waste in their areas but to get rid of it.
“I just want more people to follow me and make the world a better place. We need everybody to work as a team to make a difference.”
During the pandemic, litter rates have risen in many areas across England. Ever-present wrappers, cartons, bottles and cups have been joined by plastic gloves and facemasks, all building up in our countryside. Litter has been a major problem for decades, but lockdown has led to new types and unprecedented levels in different places.
This was reflected in the YouGov poll, which questioned almost 2,000 respondents (1,964) across England on their perceptions of changes in litter since March 2020:
•          More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of respondents noticed more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) litter since the start of lockdown, with almost half (48 per cent) noticing a lot more
•          More than one in three people (38 per cent) noticed more litter near to where they lived since the start of lockdown, while a third (34 per cent) noticed about the same amount of litter 
•          A total of 39 per cent of respondents noticed more flytipping since the start of lockdown
•          Just over three-quarters of the English public (78 per cent) agreed that the government should be taking more action to tackle litter, including a third (33 per cent) who strongly agreed government should be doing more

 Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “Litter is a completely avoidable blight that currently scars our countryside. As more people than ever before venture into their local green space or countryside next door, it’s crucial that the government redoubles efforts to tackle litter and stops it pilling up in our beautiful countryside.
“That’s why ministers must follow through on pledges to tackle the scourge of litter. By investing in whole-system solutions to address litter, including a fully inclusive Deposit Return Scheme, we can deal with the long-lasting problem once and for all.
“That means no more delays on a fully inclusive Deposit Return Scheme, which should be introduced by 2023 at the latest. Hugely successful in other European countries, these schemes are proven to help drive unprecedented recycling rates and ensure thousands of tonnes of litter don’t end up in the countryside.
“We need a waste system that is responsive to changes in behaviour. Our current system has been failing for a long time – the pandemic simply put a spotlight on the waste crisis and it’s high time ministers stepped in.”
Alongside the poll, CPRE has launched Litter in lockdown, a study looking at trends in litter and waste since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. It was launched at an online event attended by environment minister Rebecca Pow MP; Cat Chapman, co-author of the Litter in Lockdown study; Feryal Clark MP, member of the Environmental Audit Committee; and Isla Lester.
On the back of a wave of public support, the government set out plans for how it would better deal with resources and waste in 2018. Over two years later, these plans continue to be delayed further following pressure from drinks manufacturers, among others. The poll reveals a delay would be against public opinion and there is a large appetite for government and business action. Three in five adults (60 per cent) agree that organisations that produce single-use items should do more to ensure they are disposed of in the right way.
The poll also revealed stark changes in where the public were spending their time in light of Covid-19-related regulations and the Litter in Lockdown study shows that where people go, litter follows. Findings included:
•          One in three adults (34 per cent) reported spending more time in the countryside since the start of lockdown
•          One in three adults (32 per cent) had spent more time in parks and this rose to 44 per cent for those with children under the age of four
•          Three-quarters of the public (75 per cent) spent less time in inner-city high streets and 69 per cent spent less time in local high streets, showing a substantial shift in where people spent their time

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

And now a story for our younger followers…

Meet Big Bear

Hello, I’m Big Bear. I belong to a little boy (now 26 so not so little) called Adam. With the help of Adam’s mum, I’m going to tell you a short story about a little harvest mouse called Squeak. It’s called…

Little Squeak’s little adventure

Written by Adam’s mum (if you would like to see Big Bear telling the story, you can see the video here)

Squeak is a little harvest mouse, in fact he’s so little he’s able to sit on an ear of corn like this one without it even breaking. Squeak lives with his mum in a small round nest, about the size of a tennis ball. The nest is made of intricately woven grasses, suspended between long swords of grass carefully knitted together. Squeak’s home is built on the banks of a dyke, near to the reeds and blends in so well, that unless you were looking really carefully you would not know the little nest was there.

Squeak is incredibly inquisitive and curious. He likes to investigate every hole he finds and every nest and every nook and cranny. Squeak has three best friends, Millie the mole, Tarzan the earthworm and Noble the marsh frog, so called because everyone thought he may be a prince that had not been kissed yet.

One day Squeak was sniffing around, his whiskers quivering, nose twitching, swinging from grass stem to bramble to reed, when he caught site of something glinting in the long grass next to a footpath. He was a little hesitant at first because his mum had told him not to go near footpaths, as that is where humans walk, but his curiosity got the better of him, after all there was no harm in just taking a quick look, was there?

Squeak scurried over, hopping from grass to twig along the way, holding on with his tail to help him balance, till he reached the object. Squeak cautiously approached it sniffing the air. The object was round and hollow, wide at one end and narrowed off at the other. It was made of a hard substance, which was cold to the touch. “What could it be?” Squeak wondered. “What if it was discarded by a human?” he thought. Humans often dropped things and Squeak’s mum had said never to go near anything a human had dropped. However, Squeak’s inquisitive nature was fuelled by the strange looking object. He wondered around it till he reached the narrow end where he found a hole.

This opening was just big enough for him to climb in. Squeak thought to himself, “Ooh, this hole is just big enough for me to climb in.” By now Squeak was totally absorbed in investigating this object and all his mum’s warnings had vanished from his head. Without a moment’s thought, Squeak climbed in!

Squeak crawled along, his little feet slipping on the smooth, shiny surface till he reached a slope that led down into the wider part of the object. He could smell something sweet down there, and without any hesitation, he slid down the slope into the larger chamber. There he found some sticky liquid which he tentatively tasted. “mmm” squeaked squeak. It tasted sweet and lemony and Squeak liked it, so he lapped the rest up. After drinking the liquid, Squeak felt very weary, he curled up and promptly fell into a deep sleep.

Squeak was snoring away when he heard a rough voice calling his name. “Squeak, is that you? Wake up!” “SQUEAK, WAKE UP!”

Squeaks little head shot up, he felt a little disorientated, and then remembered where he was. “Squeak!” called the voice for the third time. Squeak looked round, blinking sleep out of his eyes and saw Noble peering in through the side of the object at him. Noble’s head looked rather odd and big, it made Squeak giggle.

“Oh, hello Noble, look what I have found.” Squeaked Squeak.

“It’s a lemonade bottle Squeak, left by humans, you shouldn’t really be playing near it, let alone in it!” exclaimed Noble, a little irritated at Squeak laughing at him.

“Oh” Squeaked squeak. “Wait there I’m coming out.” Squeak made his way across the bottle to the slope he slid down earlier. He began to climb, but his little feet kept slipping on the smooth, shiny surface.

“I can’t get out.” Squeaked Squeak urgently.

“Try running up it.” Croaked Noble.

Squeak went to the back of the bottle and ran at the slope, he got halfway up before sliding all the way down again, his feet desperately trying to get a grip. Squeak tried several times but just slid down every time. Squeak sat down panting. “I can’t get out, I’m trapped.” Squeak squeaked worriedly.

“Hold on” croaked Noble. “I’ll come and get you.” Noble tried to squeeze his head in, he tried to squeeze his bottom in, but whichever way he tried he just could not fit through the hole. “I can’t get in.” Croaked Noble.

“Oh” squeaked a now teary Squeak.

“Don’t cry. Wait there, I’ll go get help, Millie will know what to do.” Said Noble trying not to sound worried.

“I can hardly go anywhere now, can I?” Squeaked Squeak a little flustered.

Noble hopped off to find Millie.

Noble found Millie playing hide and seek with Tarzan. Millie was a sleek black mole that lived in the meadows surrounding the dyke and Tarzan was an earthworm. They were darting in and out of holes in the ground. Being a mole, Millie used her keen sense of smell and her whiskers to sense any vibration to find Tarzan, and Tarzan being an earthworm, used his expertise at burrowing to hide from Millie. Now normally moles love earthworms, usually to eat, but Tarzan was different as he grew up with Millie, so Millie won’t eat Tarzan, much to Tarzan’s relief.

“Help, help.” Croaked Noble urgently. “Help, Squeak is trapped in a human bottle.”

Both Millie and Tarzan stopped playing and popped their heads out of their respective holes, only it was hard to tell Tarzans head from his tail.

“What do you mean trapped?” Millie said.

“Squeak is trapped, he can’t get out of the human bottle, he keeps sliding back down the neck.” Croaked Noble.

Millie slapped her big digging paws over her mouth and Tarzan looked shocked, which is a difficult thing to be able to do if you’re an earthworm, because you lack a face, in fact Tarzan often found his friends talking to the wrong end of him by mistake.

Noble croaked “come quickly.”

Millie and Tarzan followed Noble. They rushed along by either digging and burrowing, sliding or hopping back to Squeak.

“Squeak” said Millie softly, “are you OK?”

Squeak was relieved to see his friends. “Apart from a banging headache and the fact I’m trapped, yes, I’m perfect thank you Millie.” Even in times of crisis Squeak remained perfectly polite.

“How are we going to get Squeak out?” said Tarzan. “I can get in, but I’m not strong enough on my own to push him out.”

The four of them sat, stood and lay thinking for a while.

“I’m too fat and not squidgy enough to get in” croaked Noble “I’ve already tried.”

They all cogitated some more. “I’ve got it!” Millie said excitedly. “Tarzan, you go in, Squeak, you hold on to Tarzan’s head, and we will pull you out by pulling Tarzan’s other end.”

“That’s brilliant!” croaked Noble, “I knew you would be able to help Millie.”

Millie blushed modestly, but you couldn’t tell against her silky black fur.

“I’m not sure about this.” Said Tarzan, thinking he had somehow drawn the short straw.

“Oh pleeeasse” cried Squeak desperately. “please, please help me.”

“Oh OK” Tarzan said pensively. So, in he went.

Squeak held on to Tarzan’s head with all his little strength.

“ugh, cough, cough, splutter, you’re strangling me!” Tarzan said in a very strange voice, feeling his head bulging slightly.

“Oops, sorry.” Squeaked Squeak. “I’ve been stuck in here for hours, I’m tired, hungry and have a headache.” Squeak began to cry again.

“Oh, don’t cry” said Tarzan reasuringly. “We’ll have you out in no time.”

Both Millie and Noble grabbed Tarzan’s other end and pulled. Tarzan stretched, they pulled some more, Tarzan stretched some more.

“Stop stretching.” Croaked Noble.

“I can’t help it!” exclaimed Tarzan a little embarrassed by being pulled at both ends. “You and Millie are pulling one end of me, and Squeak has my head, what am I to do?”

“Try holding yourself stiff.” Suggested Millie.

“Stiff?” said Tarzan questioningly. He felt he would never live down the humiliation.

“yes, stiff, so there is less give.” Explained Millie calmly.

Tarzan held himself as taut as he could, he pulled a determined face, but no one noticed because his face looked the same as his other end.

“Heave.” Croaked Noble as he tried to encourage the others. “Heave, heave.”

Slowly, up came Squeak, sliding bit by bit back up the neck of the bottle. All of a sudden Tarzan sprang back towards Noble and Millie, and Squeak shot out as if on the end of a bungy rope. Squeak, Tarzan, Millie and Noble all ended up in a tangled heap together.

“I’m out, I’m free!” Squeaked Squeak joyously as he hopped about. “Thank you, thank you so much all of you” and he gave Tarzan a big hug round what Squeak thought was his neck, only it wasn’t the right end and Squeak had actually hugged Tarzan’s tail by mistake.

“Make sure you never go near human litter and footpaths again!” croaked Noble kindly. “You might not be so lucky next time.

“No, I’m never going near human litter again.” Squeak Squeaked firmly.

And the four friends went off to play hide and seek somewhere safely away from the human footpath.

Now, this story ended happily, but many small creatures are not so lucky and can’t get out of bottles littered by humans, so please don’t endanger our wildlife and always either take your litter home or put it in a bin. Remember it’s their home too. Bye bye, see you soon

Don’t cave in to the drinks industry lobbyists! CPRE urges government to adopt ‘all-in’ deposit return system

More than one in four bottles littering our countryside may not be included in the deposit return scheme (DRS) if the government buckles under pressure from industry, according to CPRE.
Responding to the publication of the Environment Bill, which will allow for the creation of the DRS, CPRE is urging the government to continue with its ambition for all drinks containers – no matter the size or material – to be included in the system and not fold under industry lobbying.
The Bill allows for the creation of the DRS but does not specify what will be included or when it will be introduced.
Evidence for an ‘all-in’ scheme continues to build, with the CPRE’s Green Clean, a nationwide litter-pick carried out in September, suggesting that millions of drinks containers would still end up littering our countryside if industry secured a limited system to serve their vested interests.
Key stats from CPRE’s Green Clean, which took place across England, include:

  • Almost a quarter (23%) of glass bottles collected were over the 750ml size limit, the current upper limit for the ‘on the go’ DRS being pushed by key industries
  • More than a quarter (28%) of plastic bottles found littering the countryside were larger than the common 500ml bottle size and could be excluded from the scheme being pushed by key industry stakeholders
  • Some 7,500 drinks containers were collected during the month-long litter-pick, including cans, plastic bottles of all sizes and glass bottles

Additionally, more than one in 10 drinks containers collected were glass, a figure that does not include the shattered pieces of glass volunteers were unable to count. These would all be left to harm people, and wildlife, should industry succeed in excluding glass from the deposit return scheme.
Tom Fyans, CPRE deputy chief executive, said: “It’s great to see the government include powers to introduce a DRS in the Environment Bill, but as the results of our nationwide litter-pick demonstrate, to be an effective deterrent to the high volumes of waste polluting our natural environment, it must cover all materials of all sizes.
“To boost recycling rates for all drinks containers – cans, glass and plastic bottles, cartons and pouches – the only option is for the government to introduce an ‘all-in’ system.
“The industries that would be required to pay for the deposit return scheme continue to try to limit its scope, but we urge the government to prioritise the needs of the environment and society over corporate vested interests.
“As the Secretary of State for the Environment announced the publication of the Environment Bill, it was encouraging to hear her recognise the benefits of the DRS in England being the same as the DRS being introduced in Scotland, which will be ‘all-in’.
“This provides further hope that the government is listening as we make the case for an ambitious approach to tackling the problem of litter. But there is no time to waste, so we hope the DRS element of the Bill will be a priority as the government takes forward this vital piece of legislation.”

Monday, October 28, 2019

CPRE’s Green Clean… volunteers pick on litter (and aren’t we grateful for that!)

CPRE’s Sarah Merrington and son Oliver got picking at Graveney
It all adds up… the scene at Graveney

Members, partners and supporters of CPRE Kent pulled on their gloves and grabbed their litter-pickers as they joined other branches, community groups and volunteers to tidy up green spaces and countryside in a collective assault on rubbish.
Evidence from CPRE’s Green Clean will be used to highlight the urgent need for a deposit return system that includes drinks cans, plastic and glass bottles, cartons and pouches.
Last year, hundreds of bags of litter and more than 11,000 drinks bottles and cans were collected, demonstrating the need for an ‘all-in’ deposit return system (DRS).
This evidence helped make the case to former environment secretary Michael Gove, who gave his backing to an all-in system, stating it would give consumers “the greatest possible incentive to recycle”.
CPRE will use this year’s Green Clean to demonstrate that the problem persists and urge current environment secretary Theresa Villiers to pick up where her predecessor had left off, introducing the best scheme as swiftly as possible.
In Kent, litter-picks were held at Graveney and Folkestone.
Volunteers at Graveney were joined by Sarah Merrington, CPRE’s deputy director of volunteering who has just moved to the county, and her sons Oliver and Billy.
Sarah told Kent Voice: “Oliver and Billy are brand-new litter-pickers – and they absolutely loved it. It’s one of the relatively few occasions I have kept them engaged in one activity for more than about 20 minutes!
“They love being active in the countryside and litter-picking really helps bring to life learning about environmental issues and their own role in looking after our countryside. They worked really well together as a team – it was lovely to see.”
Welcome to Kent, Sarah!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Brilliant! CPRE campaign for deposit return scheme is going ahead

We should be seeing a lot fewer of these lying around our countryside

CPRE’s campaign for a deposit return scheme on drinks bottles and cans has finally won the day.
Environment secretary Michael Gove announced yesterday (Tuesday, March 27) that we will all pay a deposit of up to 22 pence on plastic and glass bottles, as well as aluminium cans. This deposit can of course be reclaimed.
CPRE has campaigned for the introduction of a deposit return system (DRS) in England for 10 years and is obviously thrilled with Mr Gove’s announcement.
It is a watershed moment for recycling in the UK, given that similar systems around the world produce excellent results.
The decision follows a call for evidence in October last year that investigated how littering with drinks containers could be cut and the recycling of them increased.
The evidence submitted was examined by retail giants such as Coca-Cola and Tesco, alongside other members of the Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group, for which CPRE provided the secretariat.
There has been increasing pressure from environmental groups, the media and the public for more action to be taken against the tide of waste polluting our environment, with single-use drinks containers being a huge contributor.
The new DRS for England, which follows the Scottish government’s announcement last year that it would be introducing a similar scheme, will be consulted upon this year. It is not yet apparent whether all retailers of single-use drinks will have to participate.
Samantha Harding, CPRE’s litter programme director, said: “This is a brilliant and significant decision by Michael Gove.
“I am thrilled that we will finally see the many benefits a deposit system will bring to England, not least the absence of ugly drinks containers in our beautiful countryside.
“What’s significant is that producers will now pay the full costs of their packaging, reducing the burden on the taxpayer and setting a strong precedent for other schemes where the polluter pays. This really is a bold and exciting step by the government.”
Bill Bryson, author and former CPRE president, said: “I wholeheartedly congratulate Michael Gove for his wisdom in finally accepting the case for a deposit return system in the UK – I never thought I would see this in my lifetime.
“Future generations will look back on this decision as a piece of supremely enlightened policy-making, and one that raises the prospect of the world’s most beautiful country becoming free from drinks-container litter at last.
“My most profound gratitude goes to the tireless campaigners and heroic litter-pickers of CPRE who, for the past decade, have kept the issue alive in the minds of our politicians, press and public.”
Emma Bridgewater, president of CPRE, added: “This landmark announcement is the breakthrough we have been waiting for.
“CPRE have been campaigning for the introduction of a DRS for almost 10 years – it has been a long battle, but this significant victory is an enormous leap forward in the war against waste.
“Our countryside, oceans and wildlife have long been the victim of our obsession with single-use bottles and cans, with the UK producing billions of them year after year.
“Many end up damaging our natural environments and killing our wildlife – and it is also a shocking waste of valuable materials. The proven success of DRS in other countries means that now most of these bottles and cans will be captured and recycled – we congratulate the government on their decision.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Public support for plastic bag charge increases

it’s great news that plastic bag usage has slumped by around 80% – the UK’s largest retailer Tesco said in December that the number of bags had been slashed by 78% since the 5p charge was introduced, while at Morrisons, plastic bag consumption was down 80% across its stores. The Government is now collecting full usage statistics so the full picture should be clear soon.

Meanwhile, a poll partly-commissioned by CPRE has revealed increased public support for the bag charge in England [1]. The poll for the Break the Bag Habit (BTBH) coalition found that 70% of English respondents now find it reasonable to charge 5p for all carrier bags – an 8% increase in support in the eight months since the English charge came into force [2]. The increase was particularly marked amongst younger people, where support has jumped 10% [3].

plastic bag cpre

Despite this encouraging news, the poll indicated that more people find the current charge confusing than not. The charge, introduced on 5 October 2015, does not apply to businesses of fewer than 250 employees, paper bags or franchises such as Subway. Answering the ICM survey, 42% of respondents found it confusing that only some shops charged for bags.

Samantha Harding, http://alwaysvaltrexonline.com spokesperson for the Break the Bag Habit coalition, said:

“People are clearly confused by the current scope of the charge. A universal scheme that applies to all bags and all retailers will eliminate confusion, boost public support, and most importantly reduce bag usage and litter.

“With a frankly ridiculous £1 billion litter bill, England is lagging behind the other home nations. Now that the scheme has been successfully launched, the Government should review the exemptions and introduce a universal charge.”

Photo: Earth Policy Institute

Photo: Earth Policy Institute

[1] The 2016 poll was conducted by ICM on 11th of May 2016. ICM interviewed a random sample of 2000 GB adults, including 1742 in England, aged 18+ online. The results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information is available at www.icmresearch.co.uk.

[2] The Break the Bag Habit coalition consists of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Greener Upon Thames, Keep Britain Tidy, Surfers Against Sewage and Thames21. The coalition has long worked towards the introduction of a carrier bag charge scheme in England.

[3] Survey respondents aged 18-24.

June 7th 2016