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Sweden’s deposit return scheme motivates Scotland

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Sweden’s deposit return scheme motivates Scotland

September 10
09:39 2013
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Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead is to look at the feasibility of a wider bottle deposit return scheme after watching it in action during his recent trip to Sweden

Lochhead believes schemes which offer people in Scotland an incentive for recycling drink containers could help tackle Scotland’s litter problem.

‘Recycle and Reward’

In Scotland, eight different ‘Recycle and Reward’ schemes have been piloted since the start of this year.

The programme, managed by Zero Waste Scotland, will help assess whether schemes which offer incentives such as vouchers, donations to charities or money back can increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of used drinks containers going to landfill here.

The announcement was made on the last day of Scotland’s Litter Week of Action. Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland welcomed the announcement and said: We very much welcome the news that the government wants to look at the feasibility of extending the deposit return scheme we’re running.

“Recycling is about keeping and re-using valuable materials and returning drinks containers is a simple step people could take to help make Scotland a zero waste society.  It could also play a part in making our country litter-free.”

Different demographics

Responding to the Scottish government’s interest in drinks container deposits in Sweden, Incpen director Jane Bickerstaffe director said:  ”Sweden is very different to the UK.  Deposits still operate in Sweden because when deposit-bearing refillable containers were replaced with more resource-efficient containers, they too carried a deposit.  In the UK, consumers stopped returning deposit-bearing containers over two generations ago.

“Population density in Sweden is A54 people per mile compared with 660 people per mile in the UK – neither does Sweden have a national kerbside collection for all recyclables.

“We want to work with others to tackle all litter and promote recycling.  Littering is the result of careless or thoughtless behaviour.  The way to tackle litter is by education, cleaning and law enforcement.  This is a far more effective way than a deposit scheme.

“Encouraging use of existing kerbside and recycling collection schemes also makes good business sense.”

Elsewhere, Incpen said that deposits are expensive administratively complex and discriminatory way to target just a comparatively small proportion of recyclables. The organisation also said that deposits increase costs to consumers and there is limited evidence that they reduce litter.

According to Incpen, they in effect, penalise people who already recycle by obliging them to undertake a more burdensome task.


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