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Why we so badly need a deposit return scheme

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My story is quite simple really: I have lived in North Norfolk nearly 40 years and - like so many places around the country - we are increasingly plagued by irresponsible drivers (and passengers) casually throwing used drinks cans and bottles, as well as snack packaging of one sort or another, out of passing vehicles and into the verges. Many parishes and other voluntary organisations dedicate time and effort to collecting up litter and disposing of it responsibly. But - as you know - it is both a thankless and a never-ending task. No sooner have you collected a sackful then some irresponsible idiot comes by and starts the re-littering process all over again.

Sara, my friend and fellow litter-picker, asked me to put together a short film which showed both the quantity and the type of litter that could be collected over a relatively short distance on a small country road. After a morning out with my phone and an afternoon of sorting plus a few hours editing, this was the result

We wanted to name and shame the manufacturers of the discarded items and put pressure on the Government to bring forward the promised Deposit Return Scheme - using efficient and practical Reverse Vending Machines. These machines should not be funded by the taxpayer - as we currently foot the bill for a lot of litter-picking - but by the drinks and snack companies whose detritus is not just an eyesore but also a hazard for the wildlife that we (and they) are supposed to be protecting.

So in addition to trying to circulate the film as much as possible we applied to start a specific Parliamentary Petition in order to get the weight of Parliament behind the idea, and - with any luck - force a change of mind in Government.

However our own Petition application was kicked into touch by the guardians of the petition system because they deemed it too similar to an existing petition. So we are now piggy-backing off this petition even though it does not quite push the same message as ours would have done: that the manufacturers should take financial responsibility for their rubbish and fund Reverse Vending machines throughout England (Scotland is further down the DRS road).

We're looking to get as much support as we possibly can for this push. It is crazy that we haven't already got a deposit return scheme. It also seems crazy that volunteers and taxpayers should be having to clean up the mess left by the soft drinks industry - an industry worth 13.6 billion pounds in 2020. So please, lobby your MP, sign the petition, tell your friends and just get the word out there as much as possible. Together we really can do something about litter and we can do it now.

Jeremy Brettingham


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