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Deposit return consideration

Published: 30 Dec 2015 09:50

Environment Secretary announces next steps to explore opportunities of Deposit Return Scheme.

Retailer costs and the implications for small stores need further consideration before a decision is reached on a deposit return scheme for Scotland, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has said.

It comes as a Zero Waste Scotland report is published today identifying some of the issues involved in setting up and operating such a system. The report summarises evidence from deposit return experts and operators from other countries as well as drinks companies and trade bodies, retailers and logistics companies, environmental organisations and local government.

The Environment Secretary confirmed he has commissioned further research from Zero Waste Scotland – and intends to discuss the issues further with other Ministers from across the UK.

Mr Lochhead said:

"Like carrier bag charging, deposit return schemes attach a value to items that can otherwise be viewed as waste, and have proven successful in other countries at reducing litter and increasing recycling.

"The evidence gathered by Zero Waste Scotland highlights some of the potential benefits and concerns associated with a deposit return system for Scotland. I am listening closely as I consider whether such a scheme – which has worked successfully in other countries – would be right for Scotland.

"In light of Belgium's recent suggestion for an EU-wide deposit return scheme to help tackle litter and recycling, I intend to invite Ministers from Wales, Northern Ireland and the UK Government to Edinburgh next spring to discuss these new findings.

"In the meantime, I have asked Zero Waste Scotland to undertake further work to look into the important issues raised by businesses, NGOs, and local government which include the implications for small stores, costs to retailers, and changes in customer behaviour where a deposit return scheme has been in place."

Zero Waste Scotland's study earlier this year explored the role that such a scheme could play in reducing litter, complementing local authority recycling services, and improving the quality of materials recycled.

Notes to editors

At the request of Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland published a feasibility study, by Eunomia Consulting, on the feasibility of introducing a national deposit-return system in Scotland, in May 2015.

The feasibility study was an initial step in exploring the issue of deposit return – the study does not represent a proposal from the Scottish Government.

This was followed by a call for evidence, to expand on the issues raised in the feasibility study.

The summary of the call for evidence and responses can be found at – and

The full report and Call for Evidence are available at

Zero Waste Scotland's call for evidence identified a number of areas where further work would be beneficial to fully consider the impacts of a Deposit Return Scheme. The Scottish Government has asked ZWS to give further consideration to the following priority issues, drawing where appropriate on experience in other countries:

• More accurately quantifying material "within scope" of a Deposit-Return system

• Evaluating the interaction with kerbside collections provided by Local Authorities

• Assessing the time requirements for public participation

• Retailer and manufacturing costs including space requirements, online shopping etc.

• Factors affecting countries that have decided against DRS

• More accurately identifying the value of litter reduction and improved recycling

• Impact on price

• Consideration of hygiene issues in-store and during haulage

• Evidence of behaviour change