Packaging industry body Incpen has rejected a call by the Marine Conservation Society for a deposit scheme for drinks cans and bottles.
According to the society, the measure would reduce litter, increase recycling and change behaviour in a similar way to the carrier bag charge.
It said plastic drinks bottles were among the common litter found on beaches and the amount discarded had increased by 43% since 2014, while litter from metal drinks cans had risen by 29%.
A deposit scheme in the US had reduced the number of containers discarded on beaches by 70%, according to the society.
But Jane Bickerstaffe, director of the Industry Council for Research on Packaging and the Environment (Incpen), said a deposit scheme would target only drinks bottles and leave other litter unaffected.
“There is no point in clearing up just some of it because litter breeds litter,” she said. “That’s why initiatives like bottle deposit return schemes don’t work. They target just one type and leave the rest to attract more.”
Bickerstaffe said there was no international evidence that deposit schemes prevented litter, and they also undermined recycling by diverting material into a separate system that would need its own collection vehicles on the roads.
“When Germany introduced a deposit return scheme in 2003, its recycling rates dropped and, more than 10 years later, have still not recovered to the same level. Let’s not make the same mistake,” she said.
AG Barr, manufacturer of the Irn-Bru soft drink, has opposed proposals from Zero Waste Scotland for a deposit return scheme.
It warned it could lead to looting and cross-border trafficking of recyclables.