A scheme that could see an increase in the price of bottle and can drinks is being considered in Scotland, whereby the increased “deposit” is returned to the customer if they bring the container back to be recycled.
Schemes that offer Scots an incentive for recycling drink containers could help tackle Scotland’s litter problem, according to the Scottish Government.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead is to look at the feasibility of a Deposit Return Scheme, after watching it in action during his recent trip to Sweden.
The introduction of the scheme could help tackle the problem of plastic bottles and cans littering Scotland’s communities, where on average four plastic bottles and three drinks cans can be found every 100 metres of Scotland’s motorways and trunk roads.
Richard Lochhead – “The Deposit Return Scheme in Sweden is a great example of how a country has promoted the benefits of recycling into everyday life whilst also having a positive impact on litter”
The Swedish system, introduced for cans in 1984 and extended to plastic bottles in 1994, adds a small deposit to the cost of drinks, which is refunded when the container is returned.
The scheme currently achieves recycling rates of 85 percent, generates high value materials to feed Sweden’s recycling industries, and has made a huge contribution to tackling litter.
Similar schemes also work in other countries such as Denmark and Norway. In Scotland, eight different Recycle and Reward schemes have been piloted since the start of this year.
Iain Gulland, director of Zero Waste Scotland welcomed the announcement and said: “We very much welcome the news that the government wants to look at the feasibility of extending the deposit return scheme we’re running. Recycling is about keeping and re-using valuable materials and returning drinks containers is a simple step people could take to help make Scotland a zero waste society. It could also play a part in making our country litter-free.”
The programme, managed by Zero Waste Scotland, will help assess whether schemes that offer incentives such as vouchers, donations to charities or money back can increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of used drinks containers going to landfill.
On the last day of Scotland’s Litter Week of Action, Lochhead said: “Scotland is such a beautiful country and it disappoints me when I see litter blighting our landscape, so I want to make this a land where littering is no longer acceptable.
“The Deposit Return Scheme in Sweden is a great example of how a country has promoted the benefits of recycling into everyday life whilst also having a positive impact on litter. I was amazed at the cleanliness of the streets in Sweden and cannot recall seeing an item of litter throughout my trip.
“The scheme has also created new industries and investment in jobs and skills to process these valuable materials – something I want to see emulated for Scotland’s economy.
“It is a simple scheme which offers customers financial incentives to recycle glass bottles and cans when on the go, and it has clearly been successful in Sweden – it’s akin to the popular system we had widely in Scotland some years ago, when many Scots took our glass bottles back to shops and got some change back in our pockets.
“Scotland’s litter problem could be turned into a resource. At least half of littered items are suitable for recycling, such as plastic bottles and aluminium cans. This is around £1.2m worth of material every year.
“We want to encourage more Scots to recycle and, in turn, help deal with our litter problem, so it is right that we reflect on how this model could work in Scotland.”