What's holding up Scotland's bottle deposit scheme?

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Image caption, The scheme will apply to all types of drinks in containers between 50ml and three litres in size

Scotland's deposit return scheme has already been delayed by more than a year and there are now fears it may not be introduced until March 2023.

The scheme will add 20p to the price of products sold in some plastic drinking containers, cans and glass. They money is refunded when the containers are returned.

The Scottish government originally outlined its plans for bottle deposits in May 2019 as part of its climate action plan.

Ministers had hoped that the scheme would start in April 2021, but this was pushed back to July 2022 by the pandemic.

Campaigners are now concerned there will be a further delay after the new Circular Economy Minister, Lorna Slater, told MSPs the Scottish government recognised the "significant impact" that Covid and Brexit had had on the drinks industry and other sectors responsible for delivering the scheme.

The Scottish government says it remains "fully committed" to implementing the deposit return scheme, and will update Holyrood and businesses "shortly".

What type of containers are included in the scheme?

The scheme will apply to all types of drinks in containers between 50ml and three litres in size.

Glass containers have been included in the scheme, despite some criticism from the glass industry.

The Scottish government has said that HDPE-made plastic bottles, which are typically used to carry milk, will not be included.

However, 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 and all retail outlets will have to comply, regardless of size.

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.

Who will 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.

Is this also happening in the rest of the UK?

Scotland could still be the first nation in the UK to introduce a bottle deposit return scheme as recycling is a devolved issue.

A consultation on the introduction of a similar scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was carried out by the UK government last year.

A four-week pilot for a deposit return scheme was recently run in Conwy in north Wales.

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