22 August 2019 by Lucy Pegg

Scots ‘support’ DRS for glass, but industry sceptical

The majority of Scots support the inclusion of glass in the country’s planned Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) – despite opposition from producers of glass packaging, who support other measures to boost recycling.

YouGov research commissioned by Zero Waste Scotland, and published today, suggests that 85% of Scots believe glass bottles should be included in a DRS scheme. Only 8% believe it should not be part of the scheme. Polling took place in July, and included responses from over 1,000 people.

85% of Scots would support the inclusion of glass bottles in a DRS – Zero Waste Scotland has claimed

Current plans for the DRS in Scotland are based around an ‘all-in’ model, which would include PET plastic drinks bottles, aluminium and steel cans and glass bottles, with a deposit level set at 20p. DRS systems in Germany, Finland, Denmark and Estonia all incorporate glass.

Zero Waste Scotland claims that a DRS would increase the recycling of glass bottles from around 65% to 90% and cut the country’s carbon emissions by 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 over the next 25 years. This is a third of the total carbon savings anticipated by the scheme.

Jill Farrell, chief operating officer at Zero Waste Scotland, said the research showed Scotland is right to include glass in its DRS.

“At a time of a climate emergency, this is an unmissable opportunity to cut tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon.”

Jill Farrell, Zero Waste Scotland

She added: “People in Scotland want glass to be included in Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme as part of ambitious action to protect our environment.

“Every bottle recycled rather than sent to landfill means carbon savings. “At a time of a climate emergency, this is an unmissable opportunity to cut tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon.”

Zero Waste Scotland also suggests that glass collected through DRS will help to drive the circular economy and generate 1.5 million tonnes of recycled glass for use by Scottish industry over 25 years.

Industry response

But British Glass – the trade association representing the glass industry – is less optimistic about the impact of including glass bottles in a Scottish DRS.

British Glass claims that many consumers believe the glass bottles will be returned to manufacturers and refilled – the current system proposed by the Scottish government would see the bottles sent for recycling as they are currently. It cites independent research by Toluna which indicates that only 42% of Scottish consumers have heard of and understand what a DRS is.

A DRS sees consumers pay a deposit on the purchase of a packaged drink, which is then refunded when the packaging is returned in store or via a reverse vending unit

It also raised concerns about how the disposal of glass bottles through DRS would impact the infrastructure for the recycling of other glass products such as jars.

Responding to the latest Zero Waste Scotland polling, a British Glass spokesperson said: “Even with a 90% return rate on DRS glass bottles, there is a wider glass packaging system that is at risk once a DRS is introduced.

“The glass supply chain believes that the best way to increase recycling rates is to reform the Producer Responsibility system and increase recycling targets.”

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