28 June 2018 by Elizabeth Slow

Scotland consults on deposit return scheme

Zero Waste Scotland is holding its first public engagement event on how a deposit return scheme could work best for Scotland.

It follows the launch of a public consultation on a Scottish DRS by the Scottish Government yesterday (27 June). Members of the public, as well as councils and businesses are being called upon to have their say.

The Scottish Government has launched a public consultation on a Scottish deposit return scheme

Under a deposit return scheme (DRS), customers pay a small deposit when they buy drinks in, for example, a bottle or a can and get the deposit back when they return the empty container for recycling.


Zero Waste Scotland has been tasked by the Scottish Government with designing options for Scotland’s deposit return scheme, and has prepared four examples of how different choices could work together.

These examples are available to view in the public consultation document. They are designed to help people “understand how a scheme could work, and make an informed choice about what they would prefer,” Zero Waste Scotland says.

The consultation looks at factors such as the types of materials to form part of the DRS, the cost of the deposit and where materials can be returned to.

The Scottish Government confirmed its plans to implement a DRS for drinks containers across Scotland last year. The announcement was followed by calls for more consultation from Scottish businesses (see letsrecycle.com story).

Concerns have also been raised by local authorities in the past that deposit schemes could undermine councils’ kerbside collection systems already in place for materials.

However, Zero Waste Scotland said today that a DRS could reduce the amount of money councils in Scotland have to spend on landfill tax which is “currently over £50million a year”. It also has “huge potential” to reduce litter for councils to collect, Zero Waste Scotland said.

Commenting on the event, Iain Gulland, chief executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “We will be at Glasgow Fort to talk to people about deposit return, discuss what it might mean for Scotland, and encourage everyone to contribute their views.

“This is the first in a number of public engagement events we will be running over the summer. With a public consultation now live, we want as many people as possible to have their say before the consultation closes in September.”

Single-use plastics

The move follows work by the Scottish Government to target single-use plastics, which includes a pledge to match the EU’s commitment to require all plastic packaging to be 100% recyclable by 2030 and setting up an expert panel to provide advice on items such as disposable cups and plastic straws.

Mr Gulland continued: “Single-use items are a huge issue in Scotland and across the world, with more than two billion drinks containers in circulation in Scotland alone – around 694 million of which are plastic bottles.

“This is a landmark step in Scotland’s ambitious goals around ‘making things last’. I encourage everyone to make their thoughts known on deposit return – and help shape the best possible scheme for Scotland.”

Shopping and leisure centre, Glasgow Fort, has recently become an ambassador for Zero Waste Scotland’s Resource Efficiency Pledge – a nationwide scheme to help Scottish businesses use energy, water and raw materials more efficiently throughout their operations.

Philip Goodman, centre director, Glasgow Fort, said: “Single-use plastic is a major environmental concern and this work aims to bring the community together to work on the best solution to reduce waste.”


“A deposit return scheme for Scotland has a vital role to play in changing behaviour towards single-use items for good, and accelerating a more circular economy.”

Roseanna Cunningham

Scotland’s cabinet secretary for the environment, climate change and land reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “A deposit return scheme for Scotland has a vital role to play in changing behaviour towards single-use items for good, and accelerating a more circular economy.

“I’m delighted that we’re now in a position to begin gathering views, both through the public consultation and Zero Waste Scotland’s community activity over the coming months.”

Over the summer, Zero Waste Scotland said it will be hosting a series of events aiming to raise awareness of Scotland’s commitment to introduce a deposit return scheme and engage the public on the matter.

The range of events will vary, including those in communities, at major summer events, in areas of high footfall, and some organised in partnership with schools and businesses.

The UK Government also confirmed its plans earlier this year to introduce some form of DRS for single use drinks containers (see letsrecycle.com story). A consultation into how the scheme could work is expected later this year.

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