Durkan calls for cross-border Deposit Return Scheme

SDLP MLA and Former Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has sought an update on an environment-saving initiative, the Deposit Return Scheme.

The Foyle MLA commented:

“In February 2020, the Executive supported my calls for the introduction of a deposit return scheme and committed to the North’s participation in a proposed UK-wide scheme.

“While awareness in recent years has improved where recycling is concerned, we are still not at the level we need to be. A cash incentive under a Deposit Return Scheme, in my opinion, is the best way forward and will encourage uptake in the recycling.

"Our throw-away culture is completely unsustainable and our planet is bearing the brunt of it. In recent years, we have witnessed a growing realisation that action must be taken by governments, businesses and individuals to address the damage being done to our environment.

"We should be building on the success of the innovative carrier bag levy which has dramatically reduced the amount of plastic swimming in our rivers and strewn in our hedgerows.

"I know a lot of people use bottle banks but sadly they are still in the minority and this scheme would be an incentive for others. I hope that at consultation stage, the opportunity to include a wide range of materials including glass, plastic and aluminium cans, is discussed.

“We know all too well, one of the biggest offenders we need to tackle is single-use drink containers. Empty bottles and cans make up a substantial percentage of the litter on our streets and in our countryside. As Environment Minister, I explored the possibility of implementing a deposit return scheme in Northern Ireland, having seen their benefits in other countries. Unfortunately, at that time my attempts were met with some resistance, politically and commercially.

“I am disappointed that the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural affairs has no intention to push for an all-island approach to the Deposit Return Scheme. Cross border coordination, I feel would allow for a more successful initiative. I hope this decision is revisited but for now it is crucial that we push forward on implementing this environmentally transformative scheme without further delay.”

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