22 February 2019 by Elizabeth Slow

Wide set of materials backed for Scottish deposit scheme

The Scottish Government’s consultation on a deposit return scheme has found a high level of support for a scheme which includes the widest range of materials possible.

Overall, 45% of respondents thought the DRS should include PET plastic containers, metal cans, glass containers, HDPE plastic containers, cartons and disposable cups.

The Scottish Government has published analysis from its consultation on a deposit return scheme for Scotland

The question on which materials should be included was one of a number set out in the public consultation on a Scottish DRS, which ran from 27 June to 25 September 2018.

Analysis of the consultation responses was published this week by the Scottish Government – and comes as the government in Westminster consults on the introduction of a DRS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (see letsrecycle.com story).

In total, 3,215 responses to the consultation were received. These comprised organisations – such as councils, trade bodies, charities and food and drink producers – individuals, and postcard campaign respondents.

Despite the support from many for a DRS which covers a wide range of materials, organisations were much more likely than individuals to favour a more limited set of materials. Some of those in favour of targeting a more limited set of materials – typically PET plastic, metal and / or glass – cited avoiding competition with existing local authority kerbside recycling schemes.

On the go

Along with a wide scope of materials, the overall balance of opinion was “strongly opposed to a scheme limited to on the go products,” the analysis found.

However, this was a mixed picture among organisations, with public sector bodies, recycling and waste management organisations and the hospitality trade being particularly supportive of an ‘on the go’ DRS.

Those in favour of an ‘on the go’ scheme thought that this would avoid duplicating existing kerbside collections, the report states.

In terms of the deposit, more than half of all respondents suggested deposit levels between 15p and 20p.

There was also strong support for a UK-wide DRS system, with the majority of both organisations and individuals believing this would be beneficial. “Organisations were almost unanimous in this view,” the report notes. And, the overall balance of opinion was supportive of a staged introduction of the scheme.


Overall, the consultation found there was widespread agreement amongst both organisational and individual respondents that a “well-run and appropriately targeted” DRS could provide opportunities in relation to improving the environment, changing people’s attitudes to recycling and littering, and building the circular economy.

There was also widespread agreement that deposit return should be seen as a form of ‘producer responsibility’.

Commenting on the consultation responses, Iain Gulland, chief executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Countries with effective deposit return schemes are achieving capture rates of 90% and above for drinks containers and we want Scotland to emulate that success.

“Countries with effective deposit return schemes are achieving capture rates of 90% and above for drinks containers and we want Scotland to emulate that success.”

Iain Gulland
Zero Waste Scotland

“We are advising the Scottish Government on the design of the best possible scheme, reflecting the findings of this consultation and Scotland’s unique characteristics, while building on the experiences of countries that have already made a success of deposit return.”

Reverse vending company TOMRA Collection Solutions has welcomed the Scottish Government’s findings that the public is in favour of a DRS.

Managing director of TOMRA Collection Solutions UK & Ireland, Truls Haug, said: “It is fantastic to see the Scottish Government’s discussions on DRS gathering pace with the release of these consultation results. Based on our global experience we believe a DRS will help see the return of over 90% of drinks containers for recycling within just two years of the scheme being introduced in Scotland.

“In particular we welcome the findings that an overwhelming majority of respondents want to see a very broad range of materials included, with 90% wishing to see PET, cans and glass as part of a DRS for Scotland.”

He continued: “Furthermore 88% want an ‘all-in’ scheme rather that one limited to on-the-go and we are in full agreement.  A model with as few restrictions as possible, which is convenient and easy to use, will achieve the best return rates.”

TOMRA said it has already operated a number of deposit return trials with retailers across the UK and is ready to assist businesses as they prepare themselves for the introduction of a DRS.

Related links
Scottish Government DRS analysis


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