Scotland politics

Scotland's bottle return scheme deposit to be set at 20p

Bottles generic
Image caption Bottles and cans, as well as plastic drinking bottles will be included in the scheme for Scotland

The Scottish government has outlined its plans for a deposit return scheme for some plastic drinking containers, cans and glass.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham told MSPs at Holyrood that a "return to retail" model would be adopted.

She added that following an extensive consultation the deposit would be set at 20p.

The move is part of the government's climate action plan.

The minister said all retail outlets, regardless of size, would need to comply with the scheme.

She explained that there had been a lot of discussion about whether to include glass in the plans.

Ms Cunningham said it had been concluded that glass should be affected, despite some criticism from the glass industry.

However, she added that HDPE-made plastic bottles, which are typically used to carry milk, would not be included.

Containers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) - which typically carry fizzy drinks and water - will be subject to the deposit return.

How does it work?

Effectively, 20p - the deposit - will be added to the price of a single-use drinks container bought from a shop.

The consumer will get their deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can to the retailer.

The scheme will operate throughout Scotland, including rural areas.

All types of drinks and all containers above 50ml and up to three litres in size are included.

Businesses selling drinks which are opened and consumed on site - such as pubs and restaurants - will not have to charge the deposit to the public.

How do I get my deposit back?

There will be two ways you can return your empty container - over the counter, or by using a reverse vending machine (RVM).

An RVM is a machine that scans containers when they are returned and then refunds your deposit.

The government says there will be a range of ways you can get your 20p back, for example cash at a till, a token or discount voucher or digitally. The returned containers are stored in the machine and are then collected for recycling.

As well as retailers and hospitality businesses, schools and other community hubs will be able to act as return locations.

Will anyone be in charge of this scheme?

The government says an independent, privately-run, not-for-profit company will be in charge.

It adds that the system will be paid for through three sources of funding - unredeemed deposits, revenue from the sale of materials and a producer fee.

When will this plan be implemented?

The Scottish government said it was planning to introduce legislation later in the year. Once the Scottish Parliament has passed the necessary regulations, there will be an implementation period of at least 12 months before the scheme is up and running.

Is this also happening in the rest of the UK?

Scotland will likely be the first nation in the UK to introduce a bottle deposit return scheme. That is possible because recycling is a devolved issue.

Currently, a consultation is taking place in England with a deposit of about 15p being mooted.

Wales has been involved with the research being done for England. However, the Welsh government said it was already the third best place in the world for recycling, so it questioned whether a bottle deposit scheme would improve on that.

In Northern Ireland, a deposit return scheme is also under consideration.

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