Deposit return scheme offers opportunities for community action
Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) offers opportunities for community action, environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham told delegates at a Holyrood fringe event at SNP conference.
The scheme which will see a small deposit added to drinks in glass and plastic bottles and cans, which the customer will get back when they are returned for recycling.
Concerns were raised at the event, which was sponsored by Coca-Cola, that because the scheme involves large collection point machines for depositing used containers, it will favour larger supermarkets over smaller stores and be more suited to cities and towns than rural areas.
But Cunningham said she thought there were some “real opportunities”.
She said: “That's one of the things that we did want to flag up, that there are some opportunities for local community action. There's opportunities for perhaps some social enterprise to spring up around this in some areas.
“And I think that once it's in place, once it's actually happening, we will begin to see some of that developing, hubs appearing.
“And I saw this in Norway, you know, in rural Norway, where they maybe don't have a massive amount, all coming into one garage shop, and everything just goes into the garage – into their own garage – and then gets collected.
“Well, it doesn't have to be just done at a garage shop, it could be done in somewhere else as well.
“So I think we will see some relatively creative developments around this. I certainly hope so.”
Cunningham said she was not going to apologise for the time taken to put the scheme together because “it needed that time and space and care to be taken about it”.
Plans for a DRS scheme were originally mooted by current universities minister Richard Lochhead when he was environment secretary and have been taken forward by Cunningham in her time in the role.
The two government ministers were joined by Jim Fox from Coca-Cola to discuss the thinking behind the scheme and the practicalities in setting it up, with finding a processor for the plastics collected among the challenges.
The drinks manufacturer had originally opposed the scheme, but having come round to the idea, Fox said we “really do need to make progress now”.
It was due to be launched in April 2021, but has been delayed until July 2022 due to coronavirus.