MSPs to consider deposit return scheme as part of investigation into waste sector

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 26 May 2017 in News

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee sets out plans to examine waste generation and disposal in Scotland

Cans - image credit: Fotolia

MSPs will consider introducing a deposit return scheme in Scotland as part of a wider investigation into the waste sector, the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee has announced.

The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee today set out plans to examine waste generation and disposal in Scotland with the aim of identifying challenges and opportunities in meeting targets.

The inquiry follows an investigation by a committee sub-group on the viability of introducing a deposit return scheme (DRS), in which consumers are able to return bottles or cans for a cash payment.


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Environmental groups have urged the Scottish Government to introduce a DRS, arguing the scheme would increase recycling, combat climate change, cut costs for local authorities and boost employment, with soft-drinks giant Coca-Cola showing willingness to throw its weight behind the campaign earlier this year.

Concluding that a deposit system offers “one potential solution to a wider problem of waste collection and disposal” the Environment Committee sub-group said the feasibility of a DRS would depend “entirely on the starting point and the aims of Scotland’s waste strategy”.

The sub-group suggested the committee undertook further work into waste collection and disposal, with MSPs recommending it would be more effective to start by considering the wider waste landscape and incorporate discussion of a DRS within that.

The sub-group report identified challenges for a DRS, including barriers in regulation, cost and enforcement.

Responding to the sub-group, SGF chief executive Peter Cheema said: “The DRS is too complex, too expensive and too burdensome on customers and small shops. We should be looking instead at investing in kerbside schemes and raising the awareness of consumers about how they can recycle more effectively.”

Keep Scotland Beautiful said that, although a DRS would not fully address Scotland’s wider litter challenge, it could lead to an increase in recycling rates and reduce the volume of aluminium and plastic in the litter stream.

The work on DRS will form part of a wider investigation from the committee on the volume, sources and treatment of waste in Scotland.

Committee convener Graeme Dey MSP said: “Our committee intends to explore Scotland’s approach to waste management in the round. 

“We plan to take evidence to identify the key issues for waste management before focussing on possible priorities for action. A deposit return scheme might be part of the solution but we will examine this in the context of a wider look into waste management.”

The committee agreed to hold an initial evidence session on 20 June to explore waste generation and disposal in Scotland more widely and identify the challenges and opportunities in meeting Scotland’s waste targets.

John Mayhew, director of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, which is running the Have You Got The Bottle? campaign, said: “Now the discussion moves to the full Committee, which will hear the evidence that an efficient modern deposit system would boost Scottish retailers' income, cut local councils' costs and substantially reduce both litter and waste. Empty cans and bottles are a major problem, but this full inquiry is also an opportunity for other aspects of Scotland's litter and waste problems to be addressed, and we would urge everyone with an interest in these issues to get involved.”

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