The Scottish Government has been committed to introducing a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks bottles. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, informed MSPs that more would be done to reduce waste and support the circular economy. The Scottish Government has already arranged a detailed study into such a scheme and Ms Sturgeon has now confirmed her intention to design and introduce a DRS for drinks containers.
Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign
Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign has prompted this initiative, which will apply to glass bottles and aluminium cans, as well as plastic bottles that will go for plastic waste recycling. Ministers will now examine what type of Deposit Return Scheme will be most effective and attempt to balance environmental interests with the concerns expressed by opponents of the scheme.
Coca-Cola previously opposed the introduction of a DRS in Scotland, but since the company’s opposition was exposed by Sky News, its opposition has been reversed.
Sky News has evidence of an internal Coca-Cola document, which reveals just how fiercely Coca-Cola opposes the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme in the UK. In an internal report written in 2016, Coca-Cola targeted EU deposit systems as a subject for “fightback”. The company seems to have been concerned about the financial and logistical costs associated with a DRS, despite the fact that similar schemes have been effectively introduced in various European countries. However, it has now publicly withdrawn its opposition to the scheme in Scotland.
Other drinks companies, however, are still opposed to a DRS, despite the fact that it would increase plastic waste recycling and reduce marine pollution considerably. Barrs, the manufacturers of Irn-Bru, claim that a DRS could make cross-border trafficking of deposit bearing containers possible and be subject to fraud.
Support for deposit return schemes
The Marine Conservation Society strongly supports a DRS. Scotland Conservation Officer for the MCS, Catherine Gemmell, said the plans were an absolutely fantastic idea. She highlighted the increase in the number of bottles, cans and glass found on beaches over recent years and said that the society expected a deposit return scheme to make a huge impact on reducing the waste on beaches. She also said that following the introduction of the 5p charge for carrier bags a couple of years ago, there was a forty percent decrease in the amount of bags found on our beaches. The deposit return scheme could be the next thing to follow this success.
The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland also supports the deposit return scheme. Spokesman, John Mayhew, welcomed the government’s commitment and described it as a great move for Scotland. He also commented on how they appreciated the support they had received over the last year from Sky News. The DRS will be effective in reducing litter and tackling climate change. Mr Mayhew also commented that the deposit return scheme would boost plastic waste recycling rates in Scotland, as well as saving local authorities money. A further effect would be that better materials for use in Scotland’s recycling industry would be produced.