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Scotland to introduce deposit scheme for bottles and cans

Georgina Wilson-Powell

14 September 2017

The Scottish government is going to introduce a deposit scheme for recycling glass bottles and cans. 

Under the new proposal, when empty cans and glass bottles are returned to a shop, the shopper will receive their deposit back. The government has developed the policy with Zero Waste Scotland who looked to similar schemes in Scandinavia for inspiration, where return rates are over 90%. In total there are 37 countries already running successful schemes aimed at increasingly recycling and cutting down on litter.

While there is pushback from some drinks brands, 78% of Scottish people think the return scheme is a good idea to combat litter and to keep precious materials like aluminium and glass in constant circulation rather than being dumped (according to the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland).

Calum Duncan, MCS Scotland Programme Manager, says, “The results of this study are very positive. It concludes that a Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans would quickly be cost-effective and be likely to lead to measurable reductions in litter, especially marine litter. MCS litter data shows that over the past decade plastic drinks bottles alone have, on average, made up 5% of litter found on Scottish beaches."

Operating a deposit scheme is not a new idea, there was a deposit scheme in place for over a hundred years in Scotland. In the future, small shops will be able to return deposits in cash while larger supermarkets will issue a credit note.

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