79% of Scots back deposit system for bottles

Results from pilot 'reverse vending machines', run by Heriot Watt University have been encouraging. Picture: TSPL

Results from pilot 'reverse vending machines', run by Heriot Watt University have been encouraging. Picture: TSPL

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ALMOST four out of five Scots back the introduction of a deposit refund system for drinks in bottles and cans, a survey has found.

The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) said Scottish ministers are now “looking positively” at such a scheme in a bid to increase recycling rates.

“Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead asked ‘Is deposit refund perhaps the next big thing in Scotland?’, and the answer on every count has to be yes”

John Mayhew

The Scottish Government already has the power to introduce such an initiative under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act of 2009 and APRS has now published polling showing 78.8 per cent are in favour of this.

While shoppers would have to pay a deposit when buying drinks in cans and bottles, this would be refunded to them when they returned their empty containers.

Results from pilot “reverse vending machines”, in which people put bottles and cans to obtain a refund, run by Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh have been encouraging, according to APRS, while similar schemes are up and running in Denmark, Canada and Germany.

The research by Survation showed that 41.1 per cent of people are strongly in favour of such a scheme, with a further 37.7 per cent giving it “somewhat support”.

Only 3.3 per cent strongly oppose it, with a further 5.2 per cent being somewhat against the move, leaving 12.7 per cent who are neither for or against it.

APRS director John Mayhew said: “Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead asked ‘Is deposit refund perhaps the next big thing in Scotland?’, and the answer on every count has to be yes.

“The verdict of the Scottish people is in. Our poll showed that three-quarters supported it, with fewer than one in 12 opposed.

“These results are a robust mandate for ministers to do the right thing and bring in a deposit refund system for Scotland.

“What’s more, Holyrood itself unanimously approved the Climate Change Act in 2009, the legislation which gives ministers the powers needed to introduce a deposit refund system.”

He added: “We know it works in other countries, tackling litter, reducing waste, boosting recycling and supporting good new jobs in the circular economy.

“We also know that the current approach means cans and bottles end up as landfill and litter, wasting resources, spoiling our environment on land and at sea, and forcing up costs to councils across Scotland.

“As with the carrier-bag charge, some in big business will complain about it in advance, even though it’s roughly cost-neutral, and as with the carrier-bag charge the evidence from elsewhere is that a deposit refund system will just work for Scotland.

“It’s great to see Scottish ministers looking positively at this proposal and we will be taking part in a meeting with stakeholders next week to urge them to move quickly to get this system up and running.”

Calum Duncan, Marine Conservation Society Scotland programme manager, also backed the introduction of such a scheme, saying: “A deposit refund system for bottles and cans would quickly be cost-effective and likely to lead to measurable reductions in litter, especially marine litter.

“Our beach litter data shows that over the past decade plastic drinks bottles alone have, on average, made up 5 per cent of litter found on Scottish beaches.

“We have, therefore, been supportive of a deposit refund system for some time and commend the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland for this pilot work which we hope can be rolled out across Scotland contributing to litter-free beaches in future.”

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