Scotland Tackling Zero Waste: Beverages First

Zero Waste Scotland has reviewed schemes in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway in an attempt to introduce a new deposit return scheme for bottles and cans to Scotland. Under the new program customers would initially pay a surcharge when purchasing cans and bottles that would then be refunded when they returned them to the shop.

A Scottish government spokesperson confirmed: “We have already confirmed that we are looking at new ways to ensure we keep as many valuable materials in circulation for as long as possible and deposit return is one of those options. We have asked Zero Waste Scotland to model a deposit return system to help us assess impacts and benefits.”

The organization estimates the program could save local authorities anywhere from £3m and £6m on litter clearance alone. An overwhelming 78% of Scottish are in favour of the scheme according to a poll conducted by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland.

The plan is not without some criticism though, including major drink’s companies. AG Barr, maker of Scotland’s Irn Bru, warned the cost to consumer would be approximately £150m extra per year.

The company further stated, “The scope for fraud in a Scottish DRS is huge. On a small scale we could see people scavenging in bins for containers, as is the US experience. On a medium scale there is the potential for local authority amenity centre looting. And on a larger scale there is the very real possibility of cross-border trafficking of deposit-bearing containers. It costs around £400 to move a lorry load of cans from England to Scotland. A single lorry could carry 160,000 crushed cans or £32,000 worth of deposits.”

AG Barr has a significant amount of experience, having previously offered its 30p deposit return scheme for glass bottles for over 100 years before discontinuing it in August 2015.