A new investigation conducted by Greenpeace Unearthed has shown that supermarket, food, drinks and packaging trade bodies urged the UK Government to oppose new European Union (EU) ‘polluter pays’ proposals to promote recycling.

Representing retailers and brands such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and McDonalds, the trade associations lobbied environment minister Therese Coffey to oppose the EU rules in their letters from last September and this February released under Freedom of Information (FOI).

“These organisations have to reflect the view of their many members and we are aware our view on DRS is different to that of others in the industry.”

According to Greenpeace, the letters included unanimous opposition to the return schemes, under which a small amount is paid by customers for bottles and cans, which is later returned upon recycling.

While the concerns over scale of plastic pollution in the oceans are growing, the recycling rates in the UK are reportedly dropping with risks of missing the EU’s target to recycle 50% of waste by 2020.

EU rules currently require firms to pay for the recycling or disposing of the packaging marketed by them through extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes.

The new proposals, however, are said to involve more payment from the producing company if its goods are difficult to recycle.

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According to the trade associations, the deposit return schemes would hinder existing recycling schemes, address a small proportion of littered items, impose high costs on customers and enhance environmental impact.

Coca-Cola is reported to have reversed its initial opposition to the proposals earlier this year.

Coca-Cola spokeswoman said: “While we are a member of many trade bodies, these organisations have to reflect the view of their many members and we are aware our view on DRS is different to that of others in the industry.”