Deposit return scheme in Scotland could reap rewards in emission reductions

Bottle deposit return schemes could vastly reduce carbon emissions according to a new report.
Bottle deposit return schemes could vastly reduce carbon emissions according to a new report.
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A deposit return scheme in Scotland could reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 85,500 cars off the road, according to new analysis of Scottish Government's proposals.

The new scheme could also vastly reduce the £46m that is spent every year on removing litter and fly-tipping, according to the social and economic benefit report on government plans for a scheme which covers plastic drinking containers, cans and glass, and is based on a deposit set at 20 pence.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the analysis, published yesterday, showed that the proposed scheme would give industry, business and individuals the opportunity to drive sustainable economic growth while reducing their impact on the environment.

She said the scheme will "not only be an effective way of increasing recycling rates and reducing litter, but also provide a major opportunity to secure a new source of high quality material, develop our recycling infrastructure and create jobs as part of our ambition to drive the circular economy.

“This is an opportunity for us all – industry, business and individuals - to transform our approach to production and use of raw materials, and consider the environmental impact of our actions as we continue on our journey towards becoming a net-zero society.”

An Implementation Advisory Group made up of representatives from industry, business and retail is currently devising a plan for the introduction of a deposit return scheme which is expected to be up and running by 2021.

Jill Farrell, Chief Operating Officer at Zero Waste Scotland, said that putting a deposit on packaging would give it a "value", and give people "an extra incentive to look after it."

She added: "Because the glass, plastic and metals will be captured separately, the quality of the materials will be high, allowing them to be recycled over and over again. By turning bottles into more bottles, and cans into more cans, we can get the best economic return on our resources and reduce the damaging emissions that are contributing to the global climate emergency.”

And Ken McLean, Operations Director of Changeworks Recycling in Edinburgh, said the proposals were a "step in the right direction" to increase recycling rates. He added: “Separate collections are much more effective than mixed recycling at achieving the high quality and capture levels required to build and support the circular economy and make sure that no economic or environmental opportunities are missed. Deposit Return is a high quality recycling initiative that demonstrates Scotland's action on tackling the global climate emergency.”