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Scotland Deposit Return System Proposed for 2020

The Scottish Government has announced the details of proposals for a deposit return scheme (DRS).

Following a public consultation on how a scheme would work in Scotland, Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has confirmed that drink containers made from aluminium, steel, glass and PET plastic will now carry a 20 pence deposit .

The Scottish Government is hoping a DRS system will increase the quantity of target materials captured for recycling, improve the quality of material captured, to allow for high-value recycling and encourage wider behaviour changes in the uses of materials.

Scottish consumers will be able to return their containers over the counter or by using a reverse vending machine (RVM). RVMs take products, read bar codes, return the deposit to the user and store containers ready for collection. The deposit will be able to be recouped in the form of cash at the till, a token or voucher or digitally.

The scheme will have an ‘all in’ model rather than an ‘on the go’. This means that containers of varying sizes and materials will give the consumers an opportunity to return them to a retailer and get their deposit back or put them in their kerbside recycling bins.

Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish Environment Secretary, said: “Scotland was the first part of the UK to commit to a DRS as part of our wider efforts to prevent discarded drinks containers from ending up in our streets and seas, and is now the first to outline its design – one that is ambitious in scale and scope, and which gives the people of Scotland a clear and straightforward way to do their bit for the environment.

“There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling, rightly, for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations. I am therefore delighted to confirm that I intend to implement a system covering PET – the most common form of plastic packaging – aluminium and steel cans, and glass, with a deposit refund set at 20p.”

The outline has faced some criticism about the potential negative impact upon local authorities from a loss of revenue from kerbside collections. Policy Adviser at the Scottish Environmental Service Association, Stephen Freeland commented: “We suspect that the Scottish Government has missed a trick: a scheme focused on ‘on the go’ drinks containers would target those containers most likely to be discarded as litter, while limiting the negative impacts on Scotland’s existing, well established kerbside collections systems.”

Its anticipated that legislation will be introduced later this year, enabling a DRS in Scotland to come into effect in 2020.

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has previously suggested that a deposit return system would be in place in England by 2020. As part of the Resources and Waste strategy, Defra has now completed a consultation on the merits of introducing a system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government has been consulting on a raft of proposals that will significantly impact on the packaging sector and the cost of compliance.  Packaging producers should start preparing now for the changes ahead. We can work with your business to ensure you are taking significant steps to improve environmental practices, from organising talks, workshops and panel discussions, to briefing your teams about the proposed changes in legislation and how to future-proof for business for the implementation of change. Learn more about how we can help you go beyond compliance here.

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