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Suffolk aiming to be pilot scheme for UK’s plastic recycling deposit scheme

PUBLISHED: 14:28 08 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:28 08 December 2017

The scheme is hoped to reduce the amount of plastic impacting on the environment. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO

The scheme is hoped to reduce the amount of plastic impacting on the environment. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO

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Suffolk is hoping to take part in a pilot scheme which will reduce plastic waste and save thousands of pounds for the council.

Matthew Hicks has said he will write to Michael Gove in support of the proposals. Picture: ARCHANTMatthew Hicks has said he will write to Michael Gove in support of the proposals. Picture: ARCHANT

In October, Environment Minister Michael Gove announced plans to introduce a deposit scheme for plastic bottles, which would work on a reward and return basis, in a bid to improve recycling rates.

Currently, Britain recycles 57 per cent of plastic bottles – far below the 90pc recycling rate in European countries which use a deposit scheme, a Eunomia report states. The project would mean that a small surcharge is paid by customers, which would then be refunded when bottles are returned to be recycled.

At Suffolk County Council’s full council meeting on Thursday, the council unanimously voted in favour of writing to Mr Gove, and is set to ask the minister for Suffolk to be involved in a pilot scheme.

Penny Otton, county councillor for Thedwastre South, who proposed the motion to support the scheme, said: “The Government needs to make some radical changes to tackle the shocking amount of plastic used in the UK.

“As a country it’s shocking that we only recycle 57pc of our plastic bottles.

“Let’s show them that Suffolk really is the greenest county and can be the first in the country to give it a go.”

Matthew Hicks, cabinet member for environment and public protection, inset, said he would write to Mr Gove in support of the proposal and seek to participate in a pilot scheme, but said it was “important to see more details on the outcome of the consultation”.

It is believed that introducing the scheme would drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste damaging the county’s environment and coastline, and could save anywhere between £62,000 and £495,000 for the county council by reducing waste handling costs.

The proposal added that it would “also send a strong message that plastics are not for single use and would significantly cut the amount of plastic ending up in the marine environment, endangering our sea life.”

It is not yet known how much the surcharge would be.

The council also pledged to review its own plastic bottle sales, as well as plastic in its canteen. It is not yet clear when a scheme would begin if approved, but the county hopes to be one of the first in the country to adopt it.

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