Publication - Consultation paper

Deposit return scheme for Scotland: summary

Summary of the Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland consultation paper.

Deposit return scheme for Scotland: summary
What types of products will have a deposit on them? (Questions 7 to 13)

What types of products will have a deposit on them? (Questions 7 to 13)

This refers to the nature of the drink in the containers. While the most important issue for consideration when determining what types of container should be included is the material it is made from, there may be some product categories that will influence this decision. It should be noted that some product categories are so common that excluding them would have a serious impact on the effectiveness of the system.

It should also be noted that the Commission of the European Union advises that any differentiation should in principle be based on the material used for the containers and not on the content of the beverages, because the content in itself is not related to the environmental performance of the packaging. Therefore exempting categories of product should demonstrate an overriding harm from including the product.

We also recognise that it is important not to create incentives for potentially negative behaviour in other areas, perhaps by making a less healthy choice more attractive by exempting it from the system.

An issue often raised in relation to which products should be in scope, is whether a deposit return scheme should specifically target some 'on the go' drinks. By this we mean drinks bought and immediately consumed away from the home (for instance small bottles of water and soft drinks).

The containers from these can more often end up going into unsegregated street bins or being littered. It should also be noted, though, that some products that are not specifically intended to be consumed away from the home, often are and are then improperly disposed of (for instance, alcoholic drinks packaging). It would therefore be difficult to draw a clear distinction between 'on the go' and general consumption.

It is likely that the scheme will capture products in containers up to three litres in size. This is because most RVMs currently available, accept bottles up to that size and most bottles do not exceed three litres.

The products being considered in particular are:

1. Ready to drink (soft) - All non-alcoholic drinks (still and carbonated) that are ready for the consumer to drink. Includes sports drinks, energy drinks and health drinks.
2. Soft Mixer Products - All products that are mixed with a soft drink (still or carbonated) to make a drink. Includes diluting, cordial, concentrate and syrup products.
3. Bottled water - All still and carbonated water and flavoured waters that are sold in a drink container.
4. Fruit and vegetable juice – All ready to drink fruit and vegetable juice and juice drinks. Also includes fruit and vegetable based smoothies.
5. Dairy - All ready to drink milk and other dairy (fresh and long life), including all dairy alternatives. Includes milkshakes, flavoured milks, milk based smoothies and ready to drink coffee drinks. Also includes ready to drink yogurt and probiotic yogurt drinks.
6. All distilled spirits with an alcohol by volume ( ABV) of higher than 30%.
7. All fermented alcohol products including beer, cider and wine. Also includes non-alcoholic versions of the above.
8. All other alcohol not covered in the "distilled spirits" and "fermented alcohol" categories with a ABV less than 30%. Includes fortified wines, liqueurs and mixer products where spirits, wine or other fermented products have been mixed with a soft drink.
9. All other drinks, not listed above, that can be purchased to drink on the go. Includes all hot drinks such as tea, coffee and hot chocolate, and all other drinks sold 'on the go', for example at fast food outlets – this could include some of the products mentioned above but sold, for instance, in a disposable cup.

Dairy Products

Dairy, as indicated above, is a broad ranging product category with a range of issues associated with it. Evidence suggests that fresh milk is primarily consumed within the home and the packaging targeted by kerbside recycling. This packaging is predominantly HDPE plastic, which is a readily recycled and valuable material.

There has also recently been a rise in doorstep delivery of milk in returnable and refillable glass bottles, and we will seek to design a system that allows this type of return for refill to continue rather than diverting the bottles to recycling.

Dairy is often seen as presenting a hygiene risk if it is included in a deposit return scheme, if containers are returned without being cleaned. Discussion with the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland has suggested that the return and storage of such containers should not be an issue and that any such issues could be easily mitigated. Experience from other systems, such as Norway, suggests that as long as any transport containers are sealed and the material is collected and processed quickly, any hygiene impacts are negligible.

Dairy also covers a range of other products, often consumed directly from the container and on the go, and there is less evidence that these containers are captured for recycling. Furthermore, a number of these products are high in sugar, and it is important to consider whether excluding them from a scheme will make them more attractive.