HM Insights

Reinventing the 'glass cheque' – new Deposit and Return Scheme is up for debate at COSLA conference

The Scottish Government is committed to creating a more circular economy - which is the concept of keeping products and materials in a high-value state of use for as long as possible, thereby maximising resources to benefit the economy and the environment - as part of its response to the global climate emergency.

The Government is therefore considering the kind of interventions that will be required to achieve the systemic and behavioural change necessary to succeed in this goal.

One such intervention is the proposed Deposit and Return Scheme for drinks containers such as plastic bottles made from PET plastic, aluminium and steel cans and glass bottles. In essence, it harks back to the days when consumers could return glass soft drinks bottles in return for cash.

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Local authorities attending the COSLA 2019 Annual Conference are due to discuss the implications of the proposed Scheme which is currently out for consultation in the form of draft Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020. The Fringe event run by Zero Waste Scotland is entitled: Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme - What Will it Mean for Local Authorities?

The Scheme would enable consumers to take single-use containers back and redeem a 20p deposit from any retailer selling drinks covered by the Scheme. The Scheme is similar to the deposit and return schemes which already operate successfully in several other European countries. The perceived benefits of a well-run and appropriately targeted Deposit Return Scheme include improving the environment, changing people’s attitudes to recycling and littering, and building the circular economy.

The implications for local government will include the impact on existing kerbside recycling collections, the financial implications of a deposit scheme, how the transition from current systems could be made and any cost implications associated with this.

Zero Waste's Scotland's evidence summary discussing some of these issues was published in 2017 and the session at COSLA's Annual Conference today (10 October) will no doubt explore these issues in more depth.

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Our Public Sector team specialises in advising local authorities and other organisations on a wide range of issues. Please get in touch with a member of our team if you would like to find out more.