Delayed bottle deposit return scheme 'risks slipping further behind'

Campaigners warned Scotland is lagging behind other countries a year before the scheme is introduced.

Delayed bottle deposit return scheme ‘in danger of slipping further behind’ campaigners warn Animaflora via iStock

Campaigners have criticised the timetable laid out for Scotland’s bottle deposit return scheme on the kick off of the one-year countdown until its introduction.

The flagship policy, which will see shoppers pay a 20p levy on single use drinks containers before having the fee returned when they take it to a recycling point, was due to be introduced this month, but was later pushed back until the same point in 2023.

Tory MSPs have already raised concerns about the scheme’s uptake after it was revealed “no applications” had been made for the 500 points predicted by arm’s length organisation Zero Waste Scotland when the plans were unveiled.

Environmental activists have also now raised concerns over a lack of awareness of its introduction and called on the Scottish Government to do more to speed up the process.

Friends of the Earth Scotland criticised “significant delays” with the proposals, adding there was “no sign yet” of a public awareness campaign expected to be launched alongside it.

The group urged the Scottish Government “not to let the timetable slip further” but officials say the infrastructure “is now beginning to be rolled out”.

Circular economy campaigner Kim Pratt said: “We’re concerned that the Scottish Government is falling behind with implementation of this important scheme.

“The public awareness campaign is a crucial part of roll out and must be delivered on time.

“We must change the way we use materials to drastically reduce the impact of our consumption. Across Europe, deposit return schemes are well established, successful and popular. They have a direct impact on the climate by reducing the need for new materials, and they help reduce plastic pollution at the same time.

“It’s vital that there are no further delays to Scotland’s deposit return scheme so that we can begin to see the benefits.”

Businesses of all sizes are being encouraged to act now to make sure they are ready for the scheme’s launch.  

Firms can register with Circularity Scotland, the private sector company delivering the scheme, now to receive information that will help them prepare.

Zero Waste Scotland estimates the scheme will reduce emissions by an average of nearly 160,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – the equivalent of 109,000 return flights from Edinburgh to New York.

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said: “Scotland is leading the way in the UK on delivering a circular economy. By putting in place a deposit return scheme, we are delivering on the public’s desire to see action on plastic and other waste, and making an important contribution to the response to the climate emergency.

“With thousands of return points across the country, it will be as easy to return your empty bottle or can as it was to buy it in the first place. This will help to nearly double recycling rates for the containers included in the scheme, while reducing the amount of litter on our streets and cutting CO2 emissions.

“With one year to go until the scheme goes live for consumers, I would encourage all businesses and organisations that produce, ship or sell drinks to get involved with the scheme now.”

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