The idea of a circular economy is that resources should be used as efficiently as possible. Products should be redesigned to last and to be repaired or reused if possible, while landfill and incineration should be reduced or eliminated.

Efficient recycling is an important part of this thinking, too, especially for products and packaging that can’t just be used again. All too often we still use something once and then discard it as worthless. It’s time to stop thinking of this kind of packaging as waste, and to start seeing it as a valuable asset, an important source of raw materials for manufacturing.

The thousands of drinks containers that are dropped as litter or go to landfill are an excellent example. They could be used to make new containers much more efficiently, or to make other plastic products, but to get the most out of our empties requires very reliable sorting. Even kerbside recycling isn’t great at doing that.

A deposit return system is the most efficient way to recover cans and bottles. As already happens elsewhere, it would make high-quality and valuable raw materials available to manufacturing businesses in Scotland, helping to create good quality new jobs and building an economy for the long term.

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This video from Lidl (German, with English subtitles) explains very clearly how the system works for them and their customers.


At Remade Network, we want to see a thriving network of repair social enterprises across Scotland – and the world. This means designing out waste from the outset – not just reducing it once it’s created. We want to help people understand how the household goods they use are produced, consumed and disposed of. It is brilliant to see Scotland leading the way on a deposit return system and helping create a waste-free future. We need to shift the emphasis for blaming individual consumers for not doing enough, to creating the facilities and services which allow us all to do more – changing the culture as well as the economy.

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