Scotland confirms new bottle and can return scheme

Scotland’s new Deposit Return Scheme will include aluminium and steel cans as well as drinks containers made of glass and Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic.

Set to be up and running by 2021, the scheme will involve consumers paying a 20p deposit, which is then returned when the containers are taken back to collection sites, including local shops and supermarkets.

Reports suggest that restaurants and take-aways will only be required to take back materials bought on site. There is also “breathing room” for pubs and bars, according to UKHospitality.

“Drinks bought and sold in venues such as pubs, hotels, bars and restaurants are done so in a closed loop,” said UKH executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod. “The scheme does account for this and avoids the potential for businesses such as pubs, hotels or restaurants to be inundated with returns purchased in supermarkets or other shops.”

Jill Farrell, chief operating officer at Zero Waste Scotland, said the scheme will be a “game-changer” for recycling and the circular economy in Scotland. “By giving people an extra incentive to do something good for our environment, and having a consistent approach across Scotland, we are confident it will be easier for all of us to do the right thing. This will improve the volume and quality of recycling and help tackle litter in the process.” The target capture rate for the bottles and cans is 90%.

However, concerns remain about the costs of the scheme, especially given the inclusion of glass. Some industry bodies are warning of an additional £50m burden on businesses.

That Scotland will launch its scheme ahead of the rest of the UK could also push up costs, reduce efficiencies and increase the likelihood of fraud, said the Scottish Environmental Services Association.

Westminster is currently consulting on a DRS as part of its overhaul of the country’s waste policy.

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