Scottish Government opens public consultation on deposit return

The Scottish Government has launched a public consultation on a deposit return scheme (DRS) for Scotland to gather stakeholder opinions on how such a scheme for Scotland should work.

The consultation was officially launched by Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish Environment Secretary, and Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), at a school in Motherwell, near Glasgow, on Wednesday (27 June) and will collect comment from the public on a number of topics that will ultimately influence the final design of Scotland’s DRS.

The basic principle of a DRS is that a cash deposit is placed on an item, such as a plastic bottle, at the point of purchase, which consumers can then redeem upon returning the item for recycling.

Scottish Government opens public consultation on deposit return
Iain Gulland, ZWS Chief Executive, and Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish Environment Secretary, speaking to pupils at a school in Motherwell.

The consultation asks stakeholders to respond to a  number of potential choices around the specifics of the DRS, including what types of materials or products should carry a deposit, how much that deposit should be and where customers should be able to reclaim their deposit. Also requested are comments on four examples of how these different choices could work together.

Iain Gulland commented: “Scotland’s planned deposit return scheme is a landmark in the nation’s circular economy journey, with the potential to drive inward investment and create jobs in Scotland at the same time as improving recycling and reducing litter.

“Zero Waste Scotland has consulted with hundreds of organisations on deposit return to date – from retailers and manufacturers to councils and community groups – and we are delighted to see options progress to public consultation stage.

“I would encourage everyone to have their say on what Scotland’s deposit return scheme should look like, and how it should work, by responding to the consultation. By doing so you’ll be helping to shape the best possible deposit return scheme for Scotland.”

ZWS will be hosting a series of events over the summer aiming to engage the public and raise awareness of Scotland’s commitment to introduce a deposit return scheme. The range of events will vary, to be held in communities, at major summer events and in areas of high footfall, with some organised in partnership with schools and businesses.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Publishing these options for a deposit return scheme is a significant step forward in our work to tackle plastic pollution and is another demonstration of our leadership on developing a circular economy.

“The consultation sets out that deposit return is not only an effective way of increasing recycling rates and preventing drinks containers from ending up as litter, but it is also an economic opportunity.

“A deposit return scheme will provide a new secure source of high quality material which will create opportunities to develop our recycling infrastructure in Scotland and create jobs. This will also improve the availability of recycled material for use in the production of bottles and cans in the future.

“I would encourage everyone with an interest to provide their views on how this scheme can meet Scotland’s needs and help us tackle our throwaway culture.”

The last straw

In the face of a rising tide of plastics pollution, Scotland was the first UK nation to back a DRS in order to increase the capture of single-use plastic bottles. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon committed the Scottish Government to introducing such a scheme in September of last year, later to be followed by England with Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirming that a DRS would be introduced in England following a public consultation.

Scotland has been at the forefront of the fight against plastic pollution in the UK, with the Scottish Government most recently appointing the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures – an advisory group made up of experts from the public sector, academia and the retail, waste and chemical sectors, brought together to examine measures that could be taken in Scotland to facilitate the transition to a circular economy. The government also announced at the start of the year that it would be looking into implementing bans on plastic cotton buds and plastic drinking straws.

You can view and respond to the public consultation on a DRS for Scotland on the Scottish Government website.

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