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Scottish Government announces ‘return to retail’ DRS

The Scottish Government has revealed that it will be adopting a ’return to retail’ deposit return scheme (DRS) for glass, PET and aluminium drinks containers of all sizes.

Scotland was the first nation in the UK to commit to a DRS, and it has now said all shops selling drinks in these containers will offer 20p deposit refunds to customers. Retailers will have the option to take containers loose over the counter or install reverse vending machines.

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling, rightly, for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations.

“A well-run, appropriately targeted scheme could improve the environment, change attitudes to recycling and litter, and support a more circular economy.”

Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) chief operating officer Jill Farrell said: “This will be a game-changer for recycling and the circular economy in Scotland.

“By giving people an extra incentive to do something good for our environment, and having a consistent approach across Scotland, we are confident it will be easier for all of us to do the right thing.

“This will improve the volume and quality of recycling and help tackle litter in the process.

“With a huge network of places to return bottles and cans, it will be just as easy to return a drink as it is to buy one in the first place. I’m proud of ZWS’s role in advising the Scottish Government on this design, which has resulted in a blueprint for a world-class scheme.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) welcomed the announcement, but urged the UK Government to go “one step further” for England’s DRS and have an ‘all-in’ system that includes drinks cartons and pouches, as well as aluminium cans, and glass and plastic bottles.

England’s DRS consultation from Defra is looking at two design options and will close on Monday 13 May.

CPRE litter programme director Samantha Harding said: “On this side of the border, we will be urging environment secretary Michael Gove to build on Scotland’s ambition and go one better, by making sure every drinks carton is also included within England’s deposit system.

“This will not only boost the recycling rate to close to 100%, but also make the producers of drinks packaging rightly liable for the cost of every piece of packaging they create.

“This will encourage them to use more recycled materials, which will reduce waste, slow down the depletion of natural resources and move us one step closer to the circular economy that our planet so desperately needs.”

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