Pret Asks Customers: Should we Introduce Charge for Plastic Bottles?

World | Environmental Protection

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger is considering adding 10p to the cost of all its plastic bottles, which would be refunded if the bottles are returned for recycling, as part of its on-going efforts to cut plastic waste.

With the government is preparing to step in with new tax rules for single-use plastics, coffee chain firms are working on a host of new schemes of their own ina bid to cut plastic and coffee cup waste ahead of any new national policy measures.

Pret said today it would like to trial a deposit return scheme (DRS) in its Brighton outlets, but wanted to gauge consumer reaction to the idea first.

In a blog post CEO Clive Schlee said a trial DRS would help Pret understand whether customers would be willing to return bottles for recycling or switch to reusable bottles in the face of a charge.

He added that Pret would reinvest all unclaimed deposit cash back into its sustainability work.

“It will take time to eliminate unnecessary plastic, but I hope this sort of initiative will bring that day forward by drawing attention to the issue and stimulating new ideas,” Schlee wrote. “We’d like to trial a deposit scheme this April in Brighton.

“We’ve chosen Brighton because we have three busy shops there and we know the local people are highly attuned to the environment. If it is successful we could extend the scheme across the country during the autumn of 2018.”

Only around half of the tens of millions of plastic bottles used in the UK every year are currently recycled, compared to more than 90 per cent of bottles used in countries with DRS schemes such as Denmark and Germany.

Plastic waste has shot up the political and business agenda in the wake of lastyear’s Blue Planet II, which highlighted the impact of plastic pollution on marine environments.

The government has already introduced a ban on microbeads and is currently undertaking or preparing consultations on new proposals for deposit return schemes, levies on coffee cups, and wider plastic taxes.

However, the Environmental Audit Committee this week criticised ministers for not moving fast enough to introduce new plastic waste policies.