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Deposit return scheme research extended

Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) is to carry out further research on a potential deposit return scheme in the country, as experts urge more impact assessment.

ZWS published a study in May 2015, carried out by Eunomia Consulting, on the feasibility of a deposit scheme adding between 10p and 20p to the price of all drinks and containers, money that would be refunded to consumers when returned to a collection point.

It has now released responses to a call for evidence, which identified a number of areas of further work to consider the effects of such a scheme.

More information was sought on potential retailer and manufacturer costs, impact on price and the interaction with kerbside collection schemes. Other issues include:

  • more accurately quantifying material within scope of the system
  • assessing the time requirements for public participation
  • factors affecting countries not implementing the scheme
  • more accurately identifying the value of litter reduction and improved recycling
  • consideration of hygiene issues in-store and during haulage
  • evidence of behaviour change

Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead confirmed he had commissioned further research from ZWS and will discuss the issues further with relevant ministers within the UK.

“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 ZWS 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.”

Defra environment secretary Liz Truss initially met Lochhead in June 2015 to discuss a potential deposit return scheme across the UK.

Scottish soft drinks manufacturer AG Barr announced last August that its 110-year-old deposit return scheme for glass bottles, including Irn-Bru, would close from January 2016 because customers were not using it.

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