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Scotland to press ahead with bottle deposit scheme

From: Packaging News

The Scottish government is to press ahead with a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans but has drawn widespread criticism from packaging and retail bodies.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out the plans as part of her programme for government statement. Zero Waste Scotland was consulted on the scheme and received 63 responses from its call for evidence. Supermarkets, environment groups and brands, including Coca-Cola, submitted among the respondents.

It was claimed by Zero Waste Scotland that local authorities could save between £3m and £6m on litter clearance.

But the Scottish Grocers Federation chief executive Pete Cheema branded the decision “atrocious”.

“Deposit return is too costly, too disruptive and too expensive,” said Cheema. “If the Scottish government wanted to significantly damage the viability of an independent convenience store industry in Scotland, which provides 42,000 jobs and contributes over £500m to the economy, then this is an ideal way to do it. This is bad policy making and bad government, there is no evidence to justify this decision.”

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman added: “Today’s announcement by the Scottish government undermines the valuable work Zero Waste Scotland were doing to model the costs and implications of a deposit return scheme for convenience retailers, consumers and local authorities. Our view remains that deposit return schemes would impose massive unnecesary time and cost burdens on retailers operating from small premises. A small shope exemption is also no the answer as it would just divert conusmers to larger stores where they could receive returns on their deposits.”

Foodservice Packaging Association executive director Martin Kersh said that deposit return schemes would “not make a jot of difference” to the public behaviour when it came down to litter. He added that it was now up to the packaging industry to come up with a better alternative. The move could also dent recycling rates, said Kersh, as local authorities would lose valuable materials. That view was echoed by former INCPEN director Jane Bickerstaffe who argued that deposit systems risk undermining kerbside recycling and that when Germany introduced deposit return schemes in 2003, its recycling rates fell.

The move was also criticised by the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA). Kate Salmon, executive director of the SWA, said: “This afternoon’s announcement that the Scottish government will ‘design and introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers’ comes before any exploratory modelling work to assess the effectiveness and impacts of a scheme.

“The Scottish government has reneged on its previous commitment to wholesalers and other stakeholders that options would be put to the public for consultation before ministers reached a final decision on whether or not to support deposit return schemes.

“Zero Waste Scotland has admitted that it has done no assessment of how this proposal would impact on Scotland’s food and drink businesses. We stand by our view that a deposit return scheme would be impractical and costly for consumers, businesses and local councils.”

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