Scotland’s deposit return scheme to cut litter by 90%

A new deposit return scheme for drink containers in Scotland would cut litter by 90% and remove thousands of plastic bottles from the environment every day.


That is according to figures released yesterday by Zero Waste Scotland, which estimates that a deposit return scheme would see 31,000 bottles vanish from the country’s streets, beaches and green spaces each day.

Under the scheme, a 20p deposit will be added when purchasing a drink in a single-use container. The 20p will be refunded once the container is returned, incentivising people to recycle their empty bottles and cans. 

Chief operating officer at Zero Waste Scotland, Jill Farrell, believes that the scheme is going to make people think twice about dropping their empty bottles.

“Scotland’s deposit return scheme will give people a 20p incentive to do the right thing with their empty bottles and cans – take them back for recycling, rather than risk them ending up on our streets or in our river,” she added.

A staggering 694 million plastic bottles are used every year in Scotland, and nearly 12.5 million of these are littered.

Zero Waste Scotland estimates that a deposit return scheme would result in 3,500 fewer plastic bottles littered each day in the city of Glasgow, and 1,000 fewer each week in Eilean Siar.

Overall, it predicts that new legislation for a deposit return scheme to be introduced later this year will see a reduction of more than 11 million plastic bottles littered every year.

Plastic and glass bottles, and steel and aluminium cans will be covered by the new scheme, with all containers above 50 ml and up to three litres in size included.

“Litter isn’t just an eyesore – it also pollutes our environment and seas. And for every bottle littered, more plastic has to be created, generating more planet-damaging emissions,” Jill said.

“When you take back your empty bottles to be recycled, you’ll not just be getting your 20p back – you’ll be doing your bit in the fight against the climate emergency.”


Image credit | Zero Waste Scotland

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