A deposit return scheme for Scotland: consultation

Consultation on the options for distinct elements of a deposit return scheme on beverage containers, seeking views on which options will deliver the best results for Scotland.

Designing a Deposit Return Scheme

Designing a Deposit Return Scheme

In principle, a deposit return scheme is very straightforward. The price of any products included in the scheme will include a small extra amount – the deposit – which is then returned when the item is returned to a specific point.

What this means in practice is that when someone buys a drink in a bottle or can, they will get some of the cost back when they return the container to a deposit return point. If they are careful to keep a hold of the used container and return it, consumers will not lose money.

There are, however, a number of different options for how a system could be run, such as where people should be able to return items and get their deposit back and exactly what sort of materials and products should be included in the system. These components interact with each other to give a range of possible systems that could be introduced. We want to pick the system that will deliver the best possible results for Scotland.

The Scottish Government commissioned Zero Waste Scotland to design possible options for the system. This has drawn on the knowledge and expertise of a wide range of stakeholders. You can find out more details about this process in the Outline Business Case that accompanies this document.

This work has been undertaken from a blank sheet of paper, and there is not a preferred system or particular options. Zero Waste Scotland has followed clear processes to design a system designed to meet Scotland's needs. This work has been overseen by a Programme Board that includes senior representation from the Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, and has followed the well-established Treasury Five Case model in assessing options (you can read more about the process in Annex A/ OBC).

There are, of course, many other countries around Europe and globally that operate some form of deposit return scheme. While we have not sought to copy any existing system, learning from other countries has helped the design process.

This work has identified twelve key components that will make up a successful deposit return scheme. These are:

  • What materials will be collected
  • What types of products will have a deposit on them
  • How we measure success and effectiveness
  • Where you will be able to get the deposit back
  • How the scheme will be paid for
  • How the scheme is communicated so everyone understands it
  • How to prevent fraud in the system
  • How much the deposit should be
  • What infrastructure to put in place, and the logistics involved
  • How to create additional benefits from the scheme
  • Who owns the system
  • How the system is regulated

A set of options has been developed for each of the components. The options for each component are expanded on in this paper. A separate document, the Strategic Outline Case, outlines the options that were initially considered, including those that were eliminated on the basis of the Five Case model. This document is published alongside the consultation.

During this process, it has become clear that key components interact with each other in ways that will affect the success of the system. Zero Waste Scotland has, therefore, generated four example systems that allow us to understand and demonstrate the interaction of different components. These are not being presented as the four designs to be chosen from but are there to help you understand and evaluate how the system might work. These will be explained in more detail later in this paper.

Designing a fair and accessible scheme

It is important for this consultation to ensure that equalities issues are fully considered. These are explored in more detail in the accompanying interim Equality Impact Assessment, but some key aspects of the approach are drawn out here.

We have identified a number of key groups which we feel the design of the system and the choice of system components is particularly important:

  • Access for older people to return points and to information about the scheme
  • Access for disabled people to return points
  • Access for people who do not own their own vehicle to return points
  • Access for people living in remote and rural areas and islands to return points
  • Access to information about the scheme for people who do not speak English as a first language
  • Accessibility of the scheme for people with learning disabilities
  • Accessibility of the scheme for people who have impaired vision
  • Cash flow impacts on people living in poverty or on low incomes

How to Respond to the Consultation

We ask a number of questions throughout the paper. The questions are presented for response on our Citizen Space on-line hub. Please use this to respond to the consultation. If you are not able to do so, please complete the accompanying Respondent Information Form and sent it to the address noted on the form.

In order for us to deal with your response appropriately please ensure you complete the Respondent Information Form. This will ensure that if you ask for your response not to be published that we regard it as confidential and will treat it accordingly.


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