Scottish public supports deposit return scheme

Nearly 80 per cent of the Scottish public would support the introduction of a deposit return scheme (DRS), the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) has revealed.

Scottish public supports deposit return scheme

Results of an APRS survey, published on Saturday (23 May), show that 78.9 per cent of people would welcome the introduction of a DRS – where customers pay a small cash deposit when buying a drink, which is refunded when the packaging is returned for recycling.

The poll, conducted by market research company Survation in February 2015, asked the public their thoughts on a Scottish DRS, highlighting that such a scheme could increase recycling and reduce litter. Such a system is currently being considered by Zero Waste Scotland, the body that delivers the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan. DRSs are already in operation in several European countries, including Sweden, Germany, and Estonia.

Of the 1,011 Scottish adults polled, 78.8 per cent said they would support the introduction of a DRS system to cover cans, and plastic and glass bottles, with 41 per cent saying they would ‘strongly support’ it.

Just fewer than nine per cent of those surveyed were opposed to the introduction of a Scottish DRS, with 3.3 per cent ‘strongly’ opposing it.

Results are ‘a robust mandate for ministers to do the right thing’

John Mayhew, Director of the APRS, said: “The verdict of the Scottish people is in: our poll showed that three quarters supported it [DRS], with fewer than one in twelve opposed. These results are a robust mandate for ministers to do the right thing and bring in a deposit refund system for Scotland.

“We know it works in other countries, tackling litter, reducing waste, boosting recycling, and supporting good new jobs in the circular economy.  We also know that the current approach means cans and bottles end up as landfill and litter, wasting resources, spoiling our environment on land and at sea, and forcing up costs to councils across Scotland.

“APRS will also contribute to the debate and provide information to and to policy-makers about the benefits it will bring for the public, for local government, for business, and for employment.”

Commenting on the poll results, Lang Banks, Director of environmental charity WWF Scotland, said: “Deposit and return systems which encourage refilling and recycling have been shown to work successfully elsewhere, so it’s very encouraging to see the vast majority of Scots would welcome their introduction here.

“We currently live very wasteful lifestyles which in turn damages nature and our climate. And, if everyone in the world used the amount of resources we do, we would need three planets to survive.

“Therefore, reducing the amount of waste we produce coupled with achieving much higher levels of recycling is essential if Scotland is to reduce its environmental and carbon footprints.”

Packaging stakeholders oppose DRS

Despite public support for the introduction of a DRS, stakeholders in the Scottish packaging industry have spoken out against any potential system, with the Packaging Recycling Group Scotland (PRGS) stating: “We do not support the introduction of a deposit-return system in Scotland, and recommend alternative proposals to promote recycling, reduce waste and tackle litter, which we believe will be more effective.”

Speaking for the group, Jane Bickerstaffe, Director of the Industry Council for research on Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), added: “There are great examples of recycling in Scotland, including existing kerbside and on-the-go recycling schemes that are already working.

“We need to develop and improve existing initiatives, rather than creating new ones, such as a deposit-return system, which will be more costly for consumers and business, less convenient, address only a small proportion of litter and likely to undermine existing systems. ” 

Find out more about ZWS's exploration of deposit-return schemes.

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