Making the deposit return scheme work for all


Will the proposed deposit return scheme be accessible for all? This is just one of the questions the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee will be asking as it scrutinises Scottish Government plans for the scheme.

The proposed deposit return scheme would see a 20p deposit applied to drinks that come in certain single use containers. Consumers would be able to return these containers to retailers in order to get the deposit back. 

Now, the Committee has launched a call for views to find out what barriers might prevent people from taking part in the scheme. It will also explore whether the scheme will lead to the lasting behavioural change needed to make a difference to Scotland’s environment.

Committee Convener, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“We know there is wide ranging support for a deposit return scheme amongst the public. This is a fantastic sign that so many of us want to make changes that will have real and lasting impact on our environment.

“But, for behavioural change to happen, it needs to be accessible to everyone. That is why we want to know what barriers may be in place that mean for some people, making the changes needed would be impossible to do.”  

The proposals will be limited to drinks which come in single-use PET plastic, aluminium or steel cans and glass bottles. However, the proposals do not include HDPE plastic – most commonly used in milk bottles. As part of its scrutiny, the Committee also want to know if the scope of materials included is wide enough.

The Convener continued:

“These regulations will go a long way in making a difference. But for people to make the change, it has to be clear what is included.  Any confusion about what can and cannot be returned as part of the scheme will only lead to the system not working. That is why we would like to hear what more can be done to ensure that what is in place is as simple as possible.”

Now the Committee has launched its call for views and is asking a range of questions including:

* Implications and appropriateness of a uniform 20p deposit.

* Whether the proposed scheme will have the desired impact on recycling rates and reducing littering, and how that impact can be maximised. 

* What key environmental risks need to be considered and mitigated?

* What impacts are anticipated on different groups, including those with disabilities, those without private transport, and those living in rural areas?

* How the scheme should be administered, and appropriateness of the proposal for a scheme administrator that is industry-led, privately owned and operated on a not-for-profit basis. 

More information about the Committee’s consideration can be found here. 


The Scottish Government announced it would introduce a deposit return scheme in Scotland in May 2019.

The details of the scheme will be set out in secondary legislation using the super-affirmative procedure.

This procedure allows the Scottish Parliament to have an initial opportunity to comment on a draft instrument before the final version is laid for approval. More information on this procedure can be found here.

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