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Green groups welcome deposit return scheme

They called for a similar scheme to be set up elsewhere in the UK.

Details of the scheme were set out by Roseanna Cunningham on Wednesday (Victoria Jones/PA)
Details of the scheme were set out by Roseanna Cunningham on Wednesday (Victoria Jones/PA)

Environmental groups have welcomed proposals for the UK’s first deposit return scheme to be set up in Scotland.

The Scottish Government proposals include a 20p return value for bottles and cans, with all retailers required to comply with the scheme.

Jenni Hume, from the Have You Got The Bottle? campaign, praised the plans and stressed the importance of persuading other nations to follow suit.

She said: “The deposit system set out today is a major step in the right direction, setting the pace for the rest of the UK, and it will have a substantial positive impact on litter and recycling.

“Now we know how the system will work initially, the key will be to persuade the rest of the UK to adopt the Scottish model.

“It is in the interests of the environment, the public and business for the other administrations to adopt an approach that is just as inclusive.”

Calum Duncan, Conservation Scotland for the Marine Conservation Society, welcomed the announcement that the scheme will include glass as he highlighted the high levels of glass found on Scottish beaches.

He said: “Scotland is now ahead of the game and the rest of the UK must follow to ensure we have the best systems in place across these islands to increase recycling and help reduce the tide of glass and plastic bottles and cans blighting our shores.”

Dr Richard Dixon, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The system announced today will provide a huge boost for recycling of bottles and cans, reduce litter across Scotland, and save both materials and climate change emissions.

“This is a great start to getting the public to do even more recycling and it is the kind of system which can be expanded to other products over time.

“This scheme will set a good benchmark to influence the thinking for a similar scheme for England and the ideal is that the two schemes will eventually work in exactly the same way.”

Samantha Harding, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, called on the UK Government to take similar steps.

She said: “We wholeheartedly congratulate the Scottish Government on making this landmark decision.

“By introducing a deposit return system for glass, plastic and metal drinks containers, it has taken a significant step in tackling the problem of packaging pollution – one that has resulted in devastating consequences for our countryside and environment for far too long.

“On this side of the border, we will be urging Environment Secretary Michael Gove to build on Scotland’s ambition and go one better, by making sure every drinks carton is also included within England’s deposit system.”

Despite the positive response from environmental groups, concerns were raised in the business sector.

Colin Borland, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “A bottle deposit scheme is undoubtedly a popular idea. But it is understandable that those that run the very smallest shops have concerns about storage.

“That’s why we’ve been working with officials, underlining the importance of an opt-out for those without appropriate capacity.

“We’re unhappy that the Scottish Government hasn’t taken on board our concerns, despite a commitment to address the problems such a scheme poses for small retailers.

“Ministers need to explain to those that run the smallest shops how this scheme will work for them.”

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, of the Scottish Retail Consortium, described the design of the scheme as “disappointing”.

He said: “Retailers have a strong track record on recycling, reducing the environmental impact of their operations, and supporting improvements throughout the supply chain.

“A successful deposit return scheme, working within a wider comprehensive strategy to reduce waste following producer responsibility reform, would herald an opportunity to drive further increases in recycling and reduce litter, over and above the existing household kerbside system.

“However, we are concerned the disappointing design unveiled by ministers may make that achievable.”

Mr MacDonald-Russell added the inclusion of glass would add an additional £50 million annual cost to the scheme, and he suggested that by not working collaboratively on a UK-wide scheme, the Scottish Government risks increased costs on retailers and consumers.

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