CIVIC chiefs in Hampshire have publicly backed a deposit return scheme to boost recycling of drinks bottles and cans.

Government ministers have announced that all drinks containers in England – whether plastic, glass or metal – will be covered by the scheme.

Around 40 countries already have versions of the system, which typically charges a deposit that is refunded when consumers return the drinks container for recycling.

Costs range from around 6p in Australia’s scheme to 22p in Germany, where recycling rates are more than 90 per cent.

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “The council would welcome any initiative that could potentially increase recycling and reduce waste – particularly single use plastics.

“Our waste infrastructure is set up to recycle plastic bottles and cans collected from households, and it is not yet clear how widespread the proposed deposit facilities would be, which is a consideration in a large rural county such as Hampshire.”

Nevertheless, the authority did raise a concern.

The spokesperson added: “Plastic bottles and cans are already recycled as part of the kerbside recycling collections in Hampshire. Taking plastic bottles and cans out of this recycling stream could impact on local councils’ recycling operations.

“A bigger issue nationally is the use and production of other non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle plastics, such as black plastic food trays. Eliminating plastic sleeves on multi packs of bottles, phasing out the manufacture of plastic food tubs from multiple polymers and requiring the use of recycled plastic in the production of new plastic bottles, for example, could dramatically reduce unnecessary plastic waste.”

The scheme has also been greeted with mixed views.

Charity A Plastic Planet, which champions plastic-free supermarket aisles, said while the move was a “great milestone”, it was not the ultimate solution to the plastics crisis.

Co-founder Sian Sutherland said even if plastic bottles are reused or recycled, they will “almost always” end up in the environment sooner or later, and most plastic can only be recycled several times before it becomes unusable.

“Instead we have to turn off the plastic tap. This means eliminating plastic bottles at the earliest opportunity,” she urged.

“Glass bottles and aluminium cans are already widely recycled, unlike most plastics.

“This means a higher deposit should be required for plastic bottles than aluminium and glass alternatives.”

Martin Tett, Local Government Association environment spokesman, also urged industry to use the consultation on a deposit scheme to get round the table to reduce the amount of unrecyclable material in packaging.

And he said: “With various pressures affecting kerbside recycling, from China’s recent decision to not take waste from this country to funding pressures affecting all of local government, this consultation is an opportunity to renew our relationship with recycling and ensure kerbside collections are put on a firm financial footing.”