Tackling plastic pollution

Deposit return scheme consultation.

The public is being asked to shape a deposit return scheme for drinks containers as a way of reducing plastic pollution.

People would pay a small deposit when they buy a drink in a single-use container and get that money back when it is returned empty.

A consultation on a Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland asks for views on questions including:

  • how much the deposit should be
  • where people could return items
  • what sort of materials and products should be included

Around 2.5 billion single-use drinks containers are sold in Scotland every year. Some countries with deposit return schemes are achieving up to 95% recycling rates for drinks containers compared to 50% in Scotland.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Publishing these options for a deposit return scheme is a significant step forward in our work to tackle plastic pollution and is another demonstration of our leadership on developing a circular economy.  The consultation sets out that deposit return is not only an effective way of increasing recycling rates and preventing drinks containers from ending up as litter, but it is also an economic opportunity.

“A deposit return scheme will provide a new secure source of high quality material which will create opportunities to develop our recycling infrastructure in Scotland and create jobs. This will also improve the availability of recycled material for use in the production of bottles and cans in future.

“I would encourage everyone with an interest to provide their views on how this scheme can meet Scotland’s needs and help us tackle our throwaway culture.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Scotland’s planned deposit return scheme is a landmark in the nation’s circular economy journey, with the potential to drive inward investment and create jobs in Scotland at the same time as improving recycling and reducing litter.

“Zero Waste Scotland has consulted with hundreds of organisations on deposit return to date – from retailers and manufacturers to councils and community groups – and we are delighted to see options progress to public consultation stage.

“I would encourage everyone to have their say on what Scotland’s deposit return scheme should look like, and how it should work, by responding to the consultation. By doing so you’ll be helping to shape the best possible deposit return scheme for Scotland.”


Consultation available to view.

The Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland worked with stakeholders to design possible options for the scheme. The consultation provides four example designs to help people understand how a system would work and based on these designs between 1.5 billion and 2.5 billion containers could be recycled, with economic and societal benefits over 25 years of between £352 million and £990 million.

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