Pret A Manger considering plastic bottle deposit scheme

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Sandwich chain Pret A Manger has asked customers for feedback on introducing a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles.

The chain said it wants to trial its own return scheme that would add 10p to all Pret plastic bottles and return 10p for each one given back to its shops to recycle.

It hopes the trial will go ahead in Brighton in April.

Chief executive Clive Schlee wrote in a blog post: “The aim is to understand how many bottles are returned and to see if it encourages more customers to opt for a reusable bottle.

“We will of course reinvest any unclaimed deposits in future 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.”

He said Brighton had been chosen for the trial because it had three busy shops and “we know the local people are highly attuned to the environment”.

If successful, the scheme could be extended across the country during autumn this year.

Mr Schlee has asked customers for feedback on the idea, including if they think 10p is enough.

It is estimated that just over half of bottles sold in Britain in 2016 were recycled.

Meanwhile, countries such as Denmark and Germany have seen rates of recycling grow to more than 90% after introducing deposit return schemes.

Mr Schlee added: “I believe Pret owes it to itself and its customers to take a leading position on the plastics problem. Like many other companies, we have lots to do to improve the reduction and recycling of our packaging.”

Earlier this year Pret introduced a 50p discount on hot drinks for customers who use reusable cups in an effort to “help change habits”.

Mr Schlee has also said Pret will source a “well-designed” reusable cup to launch later this year and will explore adding china cups to more of its shops with seating.

Chancellor Philip Hammond signalled that taxes or charges could be levied on single-use plastics to help the UK lead the way on tackling “the scourge” littering the environment in his November Budget statement.

It comes amid rising concern about the problem of plastic waste in the oceans, harming and killing wildlife and entering the food chain, highlighted most recently in the BBC’s Blue Planet II documentary.

It follows the introduction of a 5p charge on single-use plastic carrier bags, which is credited with driving down how many are used by 85%, and calls to bring in charges on items ranging from plastic drinks bottles to disposable coffee cups.

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