New deposit return scheme is ‘once in a lifetime chance’ to tackle plastic pollution
The introduction of a long-awaited deposit return scheme could see over 90 per cent of single-use drinks containers recycled, it has been claimed.
Speaking at the final session of Holyrood’s COP26 Fringe Festival, Joe Franses, Coca-Cola’s vice president of sustainability, said the Scottish scheme, due to be introduced next year, was a “once in a lifetime” chance to reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill.
He was joined on the panel by Iain Stewart MP, Under Secretary of State for Scotland, and Iain Gulland, of Zero Waste Scotland, to talk about the role the food and drink industry can play in helping Scotland achieve its net zero target by 2045.
Franses said: “The most important thing is to get the deposit return scheme right – it’s that once in a lifetime opportunity.
“We want to get it done right, that means making sure there is alignment between Scotland and other parts of the UK; I think that’s important.
“I’m really optimistic that it will be the best route to getting us to 85 per cent, 90 per cent, even higher, collection and recycling of those bottles.
“We’re part of the deposit return schemes in Germany, Sweden and Norway…and when they’re well-designed and work well, they are delivering 90 plus per cent of beverage bottles back. When you compare that for the UK, it’s probably about 60 per cent that are collected for recycling – that’s simply not good enough.”
Speaking ahead of COP26, Prime Minister Boris Johnson named and shamed Coca-Cola for producing huge quantities of plastic, saying “we’ve got to move away from that”.
Asked about the Prime Minister’s comments at the Holyrood event, Iain Stewart said: “The point the Prime Minister was making is that we all have to work together in this.
“Yes, recycling takes us part of the way down the road, but we need to look more holistically at the whole chain…everyone has a responsibility from the producers and manufacturers to the consumers.
“I do know that Coca-Cola has made considerable advances it how it deals with recycling and the types of materials it uses.
“Personally, I would like us to get back the days when I was growing up and you got your 2p back from your bottle of Irn Bru or Coke.
“The deposit returns schemes are nothing new, but we need to get back to that sort of behaviour and consumers have a large part to play in that, not just in what they actually do with the packaging but choosing sensibly – if you’re at the supermarket, you don’t need to choose your apples in a plastic bag, you can pick them loose.”
Iain Gulland said it was important to have a global conversation about food waste.
“Food waste globally accounts for eight per cent of all emissions. We all need to have a conversation about this because as long as we talk about plastic packaging and energy decarbonisation, we are missing the big point – food waste. Without addressing it, we are not going to hit our net zero targets globally.”