Deposit return scheme consultation: analysis of responses

Analysis of reponses to the deposit return scheme for Scotland consultation.

1 Introduction

1.1 The Scottish Government is exploring options for establishing a deposit return scheme in Scotland. A consultation seeking views on a wide range of aspects of scheme design was carried out between June and September 2018. This report presents findings from an analysis of responses to that consultation.

Policy context

1.2 Dealing with plastic waste (and reducing the use of single use plastics) is a major environmental concern. The issue has come to the fore in recent years with work by the Ellen McArthur Foundation (in collaboration with McKinsey & Company and the New Economics Foundation) highlighting the growing scale of the problem, and high-profile figures such as David Attenborough adding their voices to the call for action.[1] 

1.3 Since plastic drinks containers make up a significant proportion of this waste, increasing the extent to which these are recycled is one way to tackle the problem of plastic pollution. The Scottish Government announced its plan to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers in October 2017.[2] The scheme is intended to increase recycling rates, increase the quality of recycled material and reduce littering by providing a financial incentive to recycle. Scotland will be the first country within the UK to take this step, although England has also announced plans to introduce such a scheme.[3] 

1.4 The Scottish Government is now considering what kind of deposit return scheme would be most suited to the Scottish context. The views gathered in response to the consultation will inform the design of the scheme and help ensure that it works effectively for Scotland.

The consultation 

1.5 The consultation paper, A Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland, set out the environmental and economic case for a deposit return scheme.[4] It also outlined development work undertaken in collaboration with Zero Waste Scotland and overseen by a Programme Board involving key stakeholders, and the principles that have underpinned that work. The consultation discussed key features of how a scheme might operate with reference to 12 identified scheme components without putting forward a preferred option. 

1.6 The consultation ran from 27 June to 25 September 2018. It contained 54 numbered questions seeking views on:

  • System components — covering materials to be collected, products to be included, return locations, financing, consumer understanding, preventing fraud, deposit levels, infrastructure and logistics, additional benefits, scheme ownership, and regulation (Questions 1–39)
  • Four examples of deposit return systems, and the potential risks and opportunities associated with each example (Questions 40–48)
  • Cooperation with the UK Government (Questions 49–52)
  • Equalities impact assessment (Questions 53–54).

1.7 There were 54 consultation questions comprising a combination of single-part and multi-part questions. Altogether, there were 44 closed (tick-box) questions, six of which allowed multiple responses, and 53 open questions inviting comments.[5] 

1.8 The consultation, including summary and easy read versions, could be accessed via the Scottish Government’s online consultation hub. In addition, on behalf of the Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland ran a significant engagement programme that included roadshows in all 32 local authorities, media engagement and a webinar aimed at those who were not able to attend a roadshow event in person.

About the analysis

1.9 This report presents the analysis of the responses to the consultation. The findings are based on both quantitative and qualitative analysis, with an emphasis on the latter. The analysis explores the views of respondents on each of the issues and options discussed in the consultation paper. 

1.10 Frequency analysis was undertaken in relation to all the closed questions in the consultation questionnaire and the results are shown in tables throughout this report. Comments made in response to each question were analysed qualitatively. The aim was to identify the main themes and the full range of views expressed in relation to each question or group of questions, and to draw out areas of agreement and disagreement between different groups of respondents.

1.11 As with all consultations it is important to bear in mind that the views of those who have responded are not representative of the views of the wider population. Individuals (and organisations) who have a keen interest in a topic – and the capacity to respond – are more likely to participate in a consultation than those who do not. This self-selection means that the views of consultation participants cannot be generalised to the wider population.

1.12 For this reason, the approach to consultation analysis is primarily qualitative in nature. Its main purpose is not to identify how many people held particular views, but rather to understand the full range of views expressed.

1.13 Finally, it is important to note that some of the responses to this consultation (especially those from organisations) contained technical information and references to other published and unpublished material. It is not possible in a report such as this to fully reflect the level of detail included in these submissions.

The report

1.14 The remainder of this report is structured as follows:

  • Chapter 2 presents information on the respondents to the consultation and the responses submitted. 
  • Chapter 3 presents an overview of responses, a summary of the overall views and key messages from the analysis, and a short summary of cross-cutting themes (i.e. those which recurred repeatedly in the responses)
  • Chapters 4 to 17 present the results of the analysis of the responses to the consultation questions. 

1.15 Annexes to the report comprise a full list of organisational respondents (Annex 1), information about the Have You Got The Bottle campaign which organised responses to the consultation (Annex 2), the response rates for individual questions (Annex 3), and a detailed  breakdown of organisational responses to two of the consultation questions – Questions 1 and 8 (Annex 4). 


Email: Tim Chant

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