£46 million will be saved each year by the implementation of a deposit return scheme (DRS) in Scotland, according to the Scottish Government.
Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) will give industry, business and individuals the opportunity to drive sustainable economic growth while reducing their impact on the environment, according to a government assessment.
What the Scottish Government is calling “wide-ranging social and economic benefits” of its proposed DRS have been published today (10 July).
A DRS sees consumers charged a deposit on top of the cost of their drink purchase which they then get back when the packaging is returned. The Scottish Government says a DRS will increase Scottish trade and create jobs, as well as secure a new source of “high quality material”.
This is an opportunity for us all – industry, business and individuals – to transform our approach to production and use of raw materials
It is also expected to reduce the £46 million of public money spent each year on removing litter and fly-tipping, while the carbon savings are anticipated to be the equivalent to taking 85,500 cars off the road, according to the assessment.
Scotland’s Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “Scotland’s deposit return scheme will not only be an effective way of increasing recycling rates and reducing litter, but also provide a major opportunity to secure a new source of high quality material, develop our recycling infrastructure and create jobs as part of our ambition to drive the circular economy.
“This is an opportunity for us all – industry, business and individuals – to transform our approach to production and use of raw materials, and consider the environmental impact of our actions as we continue on our journey towards becoming a net-zero society.”
A detailed implementation plan for the scheme is being developed, supported by an Implementation Advisory Group which represents key stakeholders across industry, business and retail.
Scotland’s preferred scheme
Scotland’s “preferred scheme design” aims to enable consumers to take single-use containers back and redeem a 20p deposit from any retailer selling drinks covered by the scheme.
Businesses that sell drinks to be opened and consumed on-site, such as pubs and restaurants, will not have to charge the deposit to the public and will only be required to return the containers they sell on their own premises.
Online retailers will be included in the scheme. This means that those customers who are dependent on online delivery, because for a variety of reasons they are unable to travel to shops, are able to easily get back the deposits paid on containers, the Scottish Government says.
By turning bottles into more bottles, and cans into more cans, we can get the best economic return on our resources and reduce the damaging emissions that are contributing to the global climate emergency
Non-retail spaces will be able to act as return locations. These could include recycling centres, schools or other community hubs. The only difference with retailers is that they will be required by legislation to provide a return service and others will be able to apply to opt in.
Bigger retailers with more space may install machines to both collect the bottles and cans and enable people to return deposits. Smaller retailers with less space have the option to return deposits over the counter, collecting the containers manually.
The scheme will include plastic bottles made from PET (the most common type of bottle for products such as fizzy drinks and bottled water), aluminium and steel cans and glass bottles.
Jill Farrell, chief operating officer, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Putting a 20p deposit on bottles and cans places a value on the packaging and gives people an extra incentive to look after it. Because the glass, plastic and metals will be captured separately, the quality of the materials will be high, allowing them to be recycled over and over again.
“By turning bottles into more bottles, and cans into more cans, we can get the best economic return on our resources and reduce the damaging emissions that are contributing to the global climate emergency.”
Ken McLean, Operations Director, Changeworks Recycling, said: “Scotland has really ambitious waste reduction targets and the introduction of a deposit return scheme is a step in the right direction to increasing recycling rates.
“Separate collections are much more effective than mixed recycling at achieving the high quality and capture levels required to build and support the circular economy and make sure that no economic or environmental opportunities are missed. Deposit Return is a high quality recycling initiative that demonstrates Scotland’s action on tackling the global climate emergency.”
The Deposit Return Scheme’s Full Business Regulatory Impact Assessment, together with the Full Equality Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment: Post Adoption Statement are available on the Scottish Government website.