Scotland’s deposit return scheme to go ahead despite business fears

Scotland’s deposit return scheme will launch this August, the circular economy minister has confirmed, despite some fears from business leaders.  

The scheme is set to come into place on August 16th and will see people paying a 20p deposit when they buy drinks in single-use containers, such as plastic, glass or metal.  

It’s thought the scheme could boost recycling rates and ensure high-quality materials can be sourced through recycling, but critics are concerned about the extra costs this would place on businesses.  

However, Scotland’s circular economy minister Lorna Slater told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland today ‘it is all systems go for Scotland’s deposit return scheme.’  

green bottle lot

She said the Scottish government had given businesses extra time to prepare and recover from the pandemic and had worked to address many of the concerns from businesses of all sizes. This includes reducing costs to producers and settling a VAT issue.  

Slater added: ‘I am aware there is still some outstanding concerns from small producers and importers particularly, which I absolutely take seriously, and we are working through solutions to those as well.’  

Small businesses say they are worried about the costs they could be burdened with when adding a special barcode to items bound for Scotland and higher costs from producers.  

But supporters say the scheme must start on time to tackle issues with waste and pollution. Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland said ‘suggestions that DRS will cost consumers are irresponsible – like existing deposit return schemes in other countries, it will be simple for customers to claim their 20p deposit back from any shop participating in the scheme.’ 

Dr Kat Jones, Director of APRS, which has been running the Have You Got The Bottle? campaign since 2014, added: ‘We have seen the support among the Scottish public for deposit return since the outset of the campaign. This scheme works well in other countries where it has reduced the litter we see in our towns and countryside, cut carbon emissions, and resulted in savings for local authorities. However, the scheme has been delayed twice in response to industry foot dragging.  

‘We are all trying to do our bit to reduce waste, but the onus should be on the large companies creating the issue. Deposit return schemes work to shift responsibility for waste back to the companies creating it and away from the environment and society. We need industry to work with the Scottish Government in order to create a scheme that works for businesses, communities, and the environment.’  

Similar waste deposit return schemes are expected to be launched in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2025.  

Photo by Lacey Williams


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