Scotland Introduces Bottle Return Program That Could Result in the Recycling of 11 Million Containers Annually

by | Jul 30, 2019

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(Image courtesy of Zero Waste Scotland.)

Nearly 31,000 plastic bottles could vanish from Scotland’s streets, beaches and green spaces every single day, thanks to Scotland’s forthcoming Deposit Return Scheme. Figures released recently by Zero Waste Scotland show the dramatic scale of litter reduction that could be seen in each local authority in Scotland.

Under the scheme, shoppers will pay a 20 pence ($0.24) deposit when buying drinks purchased in single-use plastic or glass bottles and aluminum or steel cans. People will get their money back when they return their empty container for recycling.

The figures published today reveal that:

  • People in Scotland go through a staggering 694 million plastic bottles every year
  • Nearly 12.5 million of these are littered

With a 20 pence incentive not to throw away your empties, Zero Waste Scotland estimates a 90% reduction in litter for the materials in the scheme. This would result in:

  • Almost 31,000 fewer plastic bottles littered in Scotland each day – more than 11 million every year
  • 3,500 fewer plastic bottles littered each day in the city of Glasgow
  • 1,000 fewer bottles littered each week in Eilean Siar

With plastic bottles only one of the materials included in the scheme, the overall impact on litter is expected to be even higher. 

About Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme

The following materials are covered by the scheme:

  • PET plastic bottles (like most carbonated drinks and water bottles)
  • Steel and aluminum cans
  • Glass bottles

All types of drinks in these containers and all containers above 50 milliliters and up to 3 liters in size are included.

Across Scotland, wherever people can buy a drink in a container made from one of these materials they will also be able to return it to reclaim the deposit. Online retailers will also be included in the scheme, ensuring it’s accessible to people that are dependent on online delivery.

The Scottish Government is expected to introduce legislation to enable the scheme later this year.


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