A new report from Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) that investigated refundable cash deposits for recycling drinks bottles and cans has been attacked by members of the packaging industry.
The report looked at introducing a deposit of between 10p and 20p on top of the price of all drinks and containers that would be refunded to consumers when returned to a collection point.
However, the Packaging Recycling Group Scotland (PRGS), which is supported by organisations such as Alupro and Coca-Cola, said that there are more effective ways to recycle this kind of packaging.
Jane Bickerstaffe, spokesperson for PRGS 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.”
The ZWS research assessed the benefits and challenges of implementing this system in Scotland by gathering evidence from a range of industry associates.
The study looked at how such a scheme could play a role in reducing litter, complementing local authority recycling services, and improving recyclate quality.
Iain Gulland (pictured), the chief executive of ZWS, said: “Deposit return systems have been used in many other parts of the world to prevent waste and increase recycling.”
“This new report is an important contribution to the debate about how we achieve our zero waste goals and move towards a more circular economy.”
Bickerstaffe said that Scotland needed to develop and improve its existing initiatives around recycling rather than creating new ones that could be expensive for both consumers and businesses.
She said that a deposit return scheme would “address only a small proportion of litter and is likely to undermine existing systems”.
“Scotland has an opportunity to lead the way in increasing recycling and tackling litter by combining the unrivalled knowledge and expertise of our sector, and building on the success of other local and national government initiatives, such as kerbside recycling,” she added.
“Only then can we find the most effective solution to meeting, and exceeding, ambitious government targets.”
Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead was supportive of the ZWS report and welcomed additional evidence from industry and stakeholders to be taken into consideration.
He 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.”