Report examines refunds for drinks bottles and cans

By David Miller
BBC Scotland environment correspondent

image copyrightPA
image captionCampaigners said deposits and refunds would increase recycling rates and reduce litter

There are no major obstacles preventing the introduction of refundable cash deposits for drinks bottles and cans, according to a report commissioned by Zero Waste Scotland.

Environmental campaigners have said deposits and refunds would increase recycling rates and reduce litter.

Meanwhile, the Scottish government has said it is keen to learn from countries which already have such a scheme.

These include Germany, Sweden and Norway.

But ministers have stopped short of giving the idea their formal backing.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "A scheme like the deposit return has the potential to be very beneficial for the environment - reducing litter and boosting the recycling of these materials and their value.

"As we have seen with carrier bag charging, attaching a value to something can be very effective in helping us make small but important changes."

Industry leaders have issued a warning about the potential costs.

They argue that existing recycling facilities should be improved instead.

Alternative proposals

The Packaging Recycling Group Scotland represents more than 30 food and drinks companies and industry bodies.

Spokeswoman Jane Bickerstaffe said: "We do not support the introduction of a deposit return system in Scotland and recommend alternative proposals to promote recycling, reduce waste and tackle litter, which we believe will be more effective."

Zero Waste Scotland has called on food and drinks companies to provide it with detailed evidence supporting their claims.

Its chief executive, Iain Gulland, said: "The research explores how a deposit return system could work in Scotland, and the issues to consider in designing and implementing a system.

"That's why we are also launching a call for evidence today, to understand the impacts of such a system and how it could work most effectively."

Any return to the days when shops gave a refund to customers returning glass bottles would be welcomed by environmental groups.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Many people in Scotland remember collecting Irn Bru bottles when they were kids to cash in the deposit.

"These proposals could create jobs, reduce needless waste and grow the green economy."

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