To help drive recycling rates, Scotland could follow the likes of Germany, Norway and Sweden and introduce a cash deposit scheme that would give consumers money back for empty drinks containers.
A new report investigating the options for a refundable cash deposit for recycling drinks bottles and cans in Scotland has been released by Zero Waste Scotland.
National deposit return systems already operate in many other countries, as a measure to improve recycling and cut litter.
The systems work by customers paying a small cash deposit when they buy a drink in a can or bottle, and get the money back when they return the item to a collection point.
Zero Waste Scotland’s research has assessed the benefits and challenges of a deposit return system in Scotland.
The study explores the role that such a scheme could play in reducing litter, complementing local authority recycling services, and improving recyclate quality. It also considers the potential costs of such a system. The model included a deposit of between 10p and 20p per item, and covered all drinks and containers, including bottles, cans and cartons.
The report was launched in tandem with a call for evidence to industry and other stakeholders on the role of a deposit return system.
Richard Lochhead, environment secretary, said: “Countries such as Germany, Sweden and Norway already have such systems in place as do parts of Canada, Australia and the United States. I am keen to explore the opportunities for Scotland from deposit return and will be highlighting these studies with my counterparts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to invite them to do likewise.”
However, the Packaging Recycling Group Scotland (PRGS) did not welcome the news.
Jane Bickerstaffe, PRGS spokesperson, said: “We do not support the introduction of a Deposit-Refund-System in Scotland and recommend alternative proposals to promote recycling, reduce waste and tackle litter, which we believe will be more effective.”
Bickerstaffe added: “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. Only then can we find the most effective solution to meeting, and exceeding, ambitious government targets.”
Research commissioned by PRGS showed that seven out of 10 Scots are concerned about littering and recycling, with over 80% claim to already recycle bottles, cans and jars.
- Image credit: Marcos André