The poll, conducted for APRS by Survation, found 78.8% of the Scottish public supported a deposit refund system to cover cans and both plastic and glass bottles, while just 8.5% opposed it.
The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 gave Scottish Ministers the power to adopt a deposit refund system: the same legislation also underpins the plastic bag charge, which has reduced plastic bag usage by over 80% in just six months, according to APRS.
Earlier this month the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland published research into this approach, which concluded that a deposit refund system for Scotland would be feasible, and which set out how such an approach could be most efficiently designed for the Scottish context.
John Mayhew, APRS – “In six months we’ll be reading reports about what a success it has been, and in a few years we’ll barely remember what a mess things used to be”
Pilots involving “reverse vending machines” were run at the Heriot-Watt University campus and elsewhere in 2013, with encouraging results, APRS revealed.
John Mayhew, APRS director, said: “Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead asked ‘Is deposit refund perhaps the next big thing in Scotland?’, and the answer on every count has to be yes.
“The verdict of the Scottish people is in: our poll showed that three quarters supported it, with fewer than one in twelve opposed. These results are a robust mandate for Ministers to do the right thing and bring in a deposit refund system for Scotland.
“We know it works in other countries, tackling litter, reducing waste, boosting recycling, and supporting good new jobs in the circular economy.
“We also know that the current approach means cans and bottles end up as landfill and litter, wasting resources, spoiling our environment on land and at sea, and forcing up costs to councils across Scotland.
“In six months we’ll be reading reports about what a success it has been, and in a few years we’ll barely remember what a mess things used to be.”
APRS will also contribute to the debate and provide information to the public and to policy-makers about the benefits it will bring for the public, for local government, for business, and for employment.”
Survation polled 1,011 Scottish adults aged 16 and over, 12-17 February 2015 and asked: “To what extent would you support or oppose the introduction of a similar type of system in Scotland?
The result revealed:
- Strongly support: 41.1%
- Somewhat support: 37.7%
- TOTAL SUPPORT: 78.8%
- Neither support nor oppose: 12.7%
- Somewhat oppose: 5.2%
- Strongly oppose: 3.3%
- TOTAL OPPOSE: 8.5%
Commenting on the poll results, WWF Scotland director, Lang Banks said: “Deposit and return systems which encourage refilling and recycling have been shown to work successfully elsewhere, so it’s very encouraging to see the vast majority of Scots would welcome their introduction here.
“We currently live very wasteful lifestyles which in turn damages nature and our climate. And, if everyone in the world used the amount of resources we do, we would need three planets to survive.
“Therefore, reducing the amount of waste we produce coupled with achieving much higher levels of recycling is essential if Scotland is reduce its environmental and carbon footprints.”
The Packaging Recycling Group Scotland (PRGS), however, has publically opposed the scheme, recommending alternative proposals to promote recycling.
PRGS, whose membership includes AG Barr, Coca-Cola Enterprises and the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF), says alternative proposals, including “existing kerbside and on-the-go recycling schemes that are already working”, offer a more effective solution.
PRGS has pledged to work in partnership with the Scottish Government and others to “significantly boost recycling and tackle littering in Scotland in the next 10 years”.
Jane Bickerstaffe, PRGS spokeswoman, said: “We do not support the introduction of a deposit return system in Scotland and recommend alternative proposals to promote recycling, reduce waste and tackle litter, which we believe will be more effective.
“Scotland has an opportunity to lead the way in increasing recycling and tackling litter by combining the unrivalled knowledge and expertise of our sector, and building on the success of other local and national government initiatives, such as kerbside recycling.”