Government Plans Deposit Return Scheme for Plastics

The government is planning to introduce a deposit return scheme to help increase recycling rates and slash the amount of waste polluting our land and seas.

UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute our streets, countryside and marine environment. To tackle this blight, the government has confirmed it will introduce a deposit return scheme in England for single use drinks containers (whether plastic, glass or metal), subject to consultation later this year.

Similar schemes already operate in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany where ‘reverse vending machines’ are often used – allowing people to insert their bottle and receive their deposit back. The deposit ranges from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany. Possible variants of a deposit return scheme include cash rewards for returning drinks containers without an upfront deposit. Once a bottle is returned, businesses are then responsible for making sure they are effectively recycled – a move that has led to a 97% recycling rate in Germany.

Want to Start a Community Owned Renewable Project?

We have a few places left on our free community-owned renewable conference at Hockton Housing Project on Saturday 28th April. Grab one before they're gone by booking your free place here:

More details:

Community Owned Renewables Conference

28th April, 9:30am-5pm
Venue: Hockerton Housing Project
Organised by Marches Energy Agency/ Community Climate Action Network
FREE, including lunch and refreshments

A one-day conference for community groups in the East Midlands that are interested in setting up a community-owned renewable project. The emphasis will be on helping communities navigate and overcome barriers created by recent policy and funding changes. Speakers include:

  • Emma Bridge ,Community Energy England
  • Jeremy Thorpe, Share Energy
  • Robin Morris, Energy Local
  • Sustainable Hockerton

The day will include engaging speakers, inspiring project examples, interactive workshops and time to meet others who are considering similar projects. There will also be a chance to hear more about 121 tailored follow up support available for a limited number of groups to help them move to the next stage of their project.

Book your free place:

Free Energy ‘Projects in a Box’ Available

The Centre for Sustainable Energy is offering free kits to run community energy efficiency projects such as draught proofing workshops, light bulb swaps or green open homes events. Some of the projects can be delivered in a day and don’t require much experience, while others are longer-term projects that might be delivered over the course of several months or a year and would be ideal for more experienced groups seeking something to get their teeth into. Each box contains all the stuff you'll need to make a success of the project, including instructions, templates, physical resources and promotional materials.

New Low Carbon Neighbourhood Planning Guidebook Published

A new edition of the Low Carbon Neighbourhood Planning Guidebook is out now. The guide has been developed to help community groups create positive and ambitious neighbourhood plans that include a strategy for energy transition and greater sustainability. Neighbourhood plans are officially recognised and provide a legally robust opportunity for communities to produce positive and ambitious sustainable energy plans.

Chesterfield Potato Day

Steve Sansom is a member of Transition Chesterfield. One of the group’s most successful projects is Potato Day and the group recently celebrated their 10th annual event at which they sold more than quarter of a million seed potato.

Potato Day is an annual opportunity for people to buy seed potato. We have almost 40 varieties for sale each year and people can buy anything from a single seed potato to enough for their allotment. We source our stock from Scotland, which is where most of Britain’s seed potato comes from, and sell it at a town centre location on the last Saturday in January. People can place a pre-order online a few months in advance and pick it up on the day. We also order stock for sale on the day.

It’s a popular event. This year, for the first hour we were open we had a queue of people the length of the shop waiting to pay, even with five people taking payments.

Potato Day helps us achieve our goal of making Chesterfield a more environmentally sustainable community. We’re helping people to grow their own food. One of the added benefits is that home grown potatoes taste infinitely better than shop-bought ones! We also make a small profit on each sale and this funds all our other costs as a group throughout the year.

The high moment for me is meeting people on the day, who often express their thanks that we put on the event. Personally, my worst thing personally is the admin. If only I had better skills in database management! We use a database of all the pre-orders to decide what to order for on-the-day sale. If one variety of seed potato has been really popular amongst pre-orders we will order more of that for on-the-day sale than a variety that has been less popular. Pre-orders also limit our financial risk as a community group as they are paid for upfront before we ever place our wholesale order.

There are about 40 volunteers involved in our event but you don’t need that many to start with. We have people involved in the planning of the event, those who spend an evening a few weeks beforehand weighing legume seeds (we’ve expanded into seeds other than potatoes in recent years). Some people come the night before to prepare the shop, others come on the day, and this year we even had a team who just came afterwards to clean up.

You can do it on a smaller scale though. We’ve helped Transition Loughborough set up their Potato Day and four years in they run the event with about 10 people on the day, and four involved in advance planning. Although you need several volunteers on the day, the rest of the year you need someone, or a few people, to really drive the project. If you’ve not got that, you’ve not got an event.

If you’re thinking of starting your own Potato Day don’t be afraid to ask for help. I had a really helpful conversation with some people who run a Potato Day in West Yorkshire. For the first few years we had a market stall for our event; then we asked the council if we could have an empty shop unit in our local shopping centre, which is part-owned by the council. So far, every year there has been a vacant shop unit available for us so it was worth the ask.

There’s definitely room for more Potato Days around the country. We’re keen to work with other groups wishing to set up a similar event, so long as they’re not too geographically close to us! If you want to share a wholesale order with us or want advice about how to run an event get in touch.

Find out more:



Steve was talking to Caroline Harmon in February 2018