Scotland To Research Further Into Deposit Return Schemes

scotland-deposit-schemeScotland’s Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead, has commissioned further research into deposit return schemes, which “attach a value to items that can otherwise be viewed as waste”. 

Retailer costs and the implications for small stores need further consideration before a decision is reached on a deposit return scheme for Scotland, Lochhead has said, following a Zero Waste Scotland report identifying some of the issues involved in setting up and operating such a system.

The report summarises evidence from deposit return experts and operators from other countries as well as drinks companies and trade bodies, retailers and logistics companies, environmental organisations and local government.

The Environment Secretary confirmed he has commissioned further research from Zero Waste Scotland – and intends to discuss the issues further with other Ministers from across the UK.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead – “Like carrier bag charging, deposit return schemes attach a value to items that can otherwise be viewed as waste, and have proven successful in other countries at reducing litter and increasing recycling”

The Scottish Government first announced research into the feasibility of a deposit return scheme in August last year, specifically with regards to “on-the-go” drinks packaging.

An opinion poll conducted by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland revealed that 78% of Scots are in favour of a drinks deposit scheme, however, The Packaging Recycling Group Scotland has publically opposed the scheme, recommending alternative proposals to promote recycling.

In June last year Lochhead met with Defra’s Liz Truss to discuss the potential for a deposit return scheme for drinks bottles and cans across the UK and Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, also announced he was considering the introduction of a money back on bottles scheme to help boost recycling.

Mr Lochhead said: “Like carrier bag charging, deposit return schemes attach a value to items that can otherwise be viewed as waste, and have proven successful in other countries at reducing litter and increasing recycling.

“The evidence gathered by Zero Waste Scotland highlights some of the potential benefits and concerns associated with a deposit return system for Scotland. I am listening closely as I consider whether such a scheme – which has worked successfully in other countries – would be right for Scotland.

“In light of Belgium’s recent suggestion for an EU-wide deposit return scheme to help tackle litter and recycling, I intend to invite Ministers from Wales, Northern Ireland and the UK Government to Edinburgh next spring to discuss these new findings.

“In the meantime, I have asked Zero Waste Scotland to undertake further work to look into the important issues raised by businesses, NGOs, and local government which include the implications for small stores, costs to retailers, and changes in customer behaviour where a deposit return scheme has been in place.”

New Food Waste Laws

In other news for Scotland, from the start of the year, businesses producing, handling or selling food, or organisations producing more than 5kg of food waste each week, will have to separate their food waste and recycle it.

The previous threshold was 50kg, meaning that more businesses now fall under the legislation.


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  1. What an utter waste of time and public money. A G Barr jettisoned their longstanding (ie >6 decades) deposit return scheme because they were only getting less than 50% response. Mr Lochhead has already been told by his Consultants that you need >85% for this to work (the supermarkets won’t allocate space for storing ’empties’ awaiting collection) but as an MSP, he has to be seen cracking the whip over his experts. All a great publicity stunt – a bit like his promise that the 5p carrier bag charge would make Scotland’s streets less littered. Aye sure!

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