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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

Recycling for the Future

Detailed work on how a potential ‘deposit return scheme’ might operate in Scotland has been commissioned by the SNP Government.

With deposit return schemes, consumers pay a small deposit that is fully refundable once the empty bottle is returned, thereby reducing litter and increasing recycling.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP has confirmed that Zero Waste Scotland will investigate design options and the associated costs and benefits of how a deposit return scheme could operate in Scotland. Options will then be put to the public for consultation before Ministers come to a final decision on the future of deposit return.

Zero Waste Scotland also published findings from its gathering of evidence, undertaken on the SNP Government’s behalf that show which areas should be further investigated.

Ms Cunningham said:

I am grateful to Zero Waste Scotland for its work so far and to everyone who provided evidence to help us better understand the benefits of deposit return for recycling and reducing litter and the potential impact on retailers and local authorities.

Clearly there are a number of issues to consider when it comes to deposit return schemes that can only be addressed by carrying out work to understand the design of a potential system. Progress will be overseen by a steering group involving representatives from the packaging industry, retailers and environmental groups, and followed by a full public consultation to ensure we are as well-informed as possible before any decisions are made.”

Kenneth Gibson added:

There is huge public support for the introduction of an all-Scotland deposit return scheme which I am pleased has been acknowledged and is being taken forward by the SNP Government. Now the work to deliver such a scheme is taking place, I anticipate that once the practical difficulties are overcome in the months ahead that a scheme will be implemented, to the betterment of Scotland’s environment.

The latest work by Zero Waste Scotland gathered evidence around key questions identified by the SNP Government following its initial investigation of the merits of a deposit system for Scotland. Zero Waste Scotland conducted new analysis on some of these questions, as well as working closely with stakeholders to collect more detailed information. The work published is focused on these key questions and is not a comprehensive review of the pros and cons of a deposit system.

Stakeholders from both sides of the debate, including drinks companies, retailers, packaging companies and environmental groups, will be invited to be members of the steering group.

Zero Waste Scotland is funded to support delivery of the SNP Government’s circular economy strategy and the EU’s 2020 growth strategy.



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