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Experts to provide guidance on drinks bottles deposit return scheme

The Scottish Government will consult industry groups as it seeks to reduce waste.

Plastic bottles could be recycled for cash under a deposit return scheme (Jonathan Pow/PA)
Plastic bottles could be recycled for cash under a deposit return scheme (Jonathan Pow/PA)

Industry groups representing retailers, small businesses, pubs and the Scotch whisky sector are among those chosen to advise ministers on a deposit return scheme for drinks containers.

The Scottish Government has set up the Deposit Return Scheme Implementation Advisory Group to provide expertise and guidance on creating an effective scheme.

This new group will provide expert advice on practical issues related to the implementation and operation of the scheme Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham

Under such a system, customers would pay a deposit on top of the price of a drink, which is then refunded when the container is recycled at a designated point of return.

Similar schemes are common across Europe, with some countries achieving recycling rates of 95% compared to 50% in Scotland.

The advisory group includes the British Soft Drinks Association, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Natural Hydration Council, the Scottish Retail Consortium and the Scotch Whisky Association.

Further members are the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, the Federation of Independent Retailers, the Scottish Wholesale Association, UK Hospitality and the Scottish Grocer’s Federation.

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(L-r) Les Montgomery, Chief Executive, Highland Spring Group, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, and Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland (Stuart Attwood/Scottish Government/PA)

On a visit to Natural Hydration Council member Highland Spring’s plant in Blackford, Perthshire, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am proud of the fact that Scotland was the first part of the UK to commit to a deposit return scheme as part of our wider efforts to prevent discarded drinks containers from ending up in our streets and seas.

“This new group will provide expert advice on practical issues related to the implementation and operation of the scheme in Scotland, with a specific focus on system administration, procurement, fraud prevention and social benefits.

“The group will also consider how the scheme will interact with the consumer, and the production, retail and hospitality industries, which will be key to its success.”

She said a deposit return scheme will increase recycling rates and reduce litter as well as helping meet increased business demand for high-quality recycled materials.

Iain Gulland, Zero Waste Scotland chief executive, said: “Scotland’s deposit return scheme is a chance to dramatically increase the recycling rate for the two billion drinks containers in circulation in the country.

“Making that happen will require the support and expertise of the people that produce and sell those drinks, and we’re pleased to have the involvement of representatives from across a range of sectors.”

He said some of those involved have operated in areas overseas with successful deposit return schemes.

Les Montgomery, Highland Spring Group chief executive, said: “As a member of the Natural Hydration Council we are keen to ensure that the introduction of a deposit return scheme is a success.”

A Scottish Government consultation on the scheme attracted more than 3,000 responses, with analysis showing support for a minimum deposit level of 15p and for the widest range of materials possible to be covered.

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