Scotland urged to implement drinks cans return scheme

Campaigners want a Scotland-wide deposit return system for glass bottles and cans.

Campaigners want a Scotland-wide deposit return system for glass bottles and cans.

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A DEPOSIT return scheme for drinks cans and bottles would benefit Scotland’s “beautiful countryside” as well as its people, the head of a similar scheme in Lithuania has said.

The country was the latest to introduce the environmentally-friendly scheme in February this year, and campaigners want the Scottish Government to follow suit.

Under such a system, shoppers pay a deposit when buying products in cans and plastic or glass bottles, with the money refunded when they return the empty containers.

A month after its introduction, Laurynas Vilimas, managing director of the Lithuanian Retailers Association, said: “I can say with absolute confidence it was the right thing to do.”

Saulius Galadauskas, head of the Lithuanian Brewers Association and chairman of the Lithuanian deposit return system, said: “We feel an obligation to take care of our country, society and nature. That is why we wanted to design a deposit return system that would work as well as possible for citizens, producers, importers and traders.

“We can be proud of our deposit return system, which brings us closer to the Lithuania we want to see - a cleaner, more beautiful and more modern country.

“A deposit return system in Scotland would benefit its people, its beautiful countryside and its producers and manufacturers. Any successful, modern business should be eager to get involved, as it will benefit them.”

The Scottish Government has the power to introduce such an initiative under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act of 2009 and earlier this year the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) published polling which showed almost eight out of 10 people backed the move.

READ MORE: Charities back plan to charge deposit for bottled and canned goods

APRS director John Mayhew said: “Momentum is building internationally for deposit return, and it’s great to see Lithuania launching a deposit return system that’s designed to reach their target of 90% packaging recycling by 2025.

“Like Scotland, Lithuania is a small and ambitious European country and, like us, the Lithuanian government had had enough of litter, waste and the missed opportunities for recycling and the circular economy. I’m sure their system will be a great success, as it is in countless other parts of the world.”

Betsy Reed, of the Have You Got The Bottle? campaign, said: “Evidence from elsewhere shows that deposit return just works. People in Scotland have taken to improved kerbside systems over the past few years and the recycling rate has risen to around 41%.

“Deposit return would make it easy for them to return empty cans and bottles to be recycled when they’re on the go.”

She added: “There are some in big business who don’t want it because it means challenging the status quo. But we know from international research and experience that it works. It would be a shame for Scottish businesses and local taxpayers alike to miss out simply because industry are resistant to change.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Like carrier bag charging, deposit return schemes attach a value to items that can otherwise be viewed as waste, and have proven successful in other countries at reducing litter and increasing recycling.

“We have asked Zero Waste Scotland to undertake further work to look into the issues raised in our call for evidence on the potential for a deposit return scheme for Scotland.”

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