Scottish Government To Establish Deposit Return Advisory Group

Industry expertise and advice on the implementation of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for Scotland is to be sought, the Scottish Government has announced. 

The Deposit Return Scheme Implementation Advisory Group will provide industry input and guidance on delivering an effective scheme, as well as testing assumptions and decisions about its implementation.

Visiting Highland Spring’s Blackford facility, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am proud of the fact that Scotland was the first part of the UK to commit to a deposit return scheme as part of our wider efforts to prevent discarded drinks containers from ending up in our streets and seas.

The new group will provide expert advice on practical issues related to the implementation and operation of the scheme in Scotland, with a specific focus on system administration, procurement, fraud prevention and social benefits, the Environment Secretary said. 

The group will also consider how the scheme will interact with the consumer, and the production, retail and hospitality industries, which will be key to its success.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham – “Not only will deposit return be an effective way of increasing recycling rates and reducing litter, it will also increase the quality of recycled materials collected in Scotland, which could be a benefit to industry based here.

Cunningham said: “Not only will deposit return be an effective way of increasing recycling rates and reducing litter, it will also increase the quality of recycled materials collected in Scotland, which could be a benefit to industry based here. Businesses want to increase the amount of recycled content in their packaging, leading to an increasing demand for recycled materials of high quality.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Scotland’s deposit return scheme is a chance to dramatically increase the recycling rate for the two billion drinks containers in circulation in the country. Making that happen will require the support and expertise of the people that produce and sell those drinks, and we’re pleased to have the involvement of representatives from across a range of sectors.

“Deposit return schemes have already proven very successful abroad, and some of the organisations represented on this group have experience of operating in those markets. With so much evidence and expertise to draw on, we can make Scotland’s deposit return scheme truly world leading.”

Les Montgomery, Chief Executive, Highland Spring Group said: “As a member of the Natural Hydration Council we are keen to ensure that the introduction of a DRS is a success. We have already taken a lead though innovations like our Highland Spring eco bottle, which is made from 100% recycled material and are keen to play our part in the roll-out of DRS.

“DRS will create a circular economy for drinks packaging, where the material is captured, recycled and returned as another bottle or can. All PET plastic bottles and cans are 100% recyclable and through the introduction of a DRS we can make it easier for consumers to ensure they are recycled”.

The news follows a consultation into how a DRS could be implemented in the country in which respondents said Scotland being part of a UK-wide DRS would be “beneficial”.


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  1. And of course Ms Cunningham deftly omits to mention that the last working DRS scheme in Scotland (run by A G Barrs of Irn Bru fame) had to be abandoned a few years ago because participation rates were under 50%. All the published research says you need 80%+ to make DRS work and she hasn’t explained how this can be achieved. But it’s good PR for an Administration that has fallen far short of its own environmental aspirations in the last decade. Like her predecessor’s promise that the 5p bag charge would ‘reduce litter’, she’ll have to explain in years to come why her DRS scheme hasn’t worked (after spending a fortune trying to do so!)

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