You can help shape the Scottish deposit return system

The Scottish Government are running a consultation on the design of a Scottish deposit return system. We’ve produced a guide to help you respond quickly and support a system design that will work best for everyone in Scotland.

If you have five minutes to call for the best deposit return system for Scotland, please follow our guide below.

We think the following five questions on the Scottish Government's consultation site are the most important to get a strong response on. You can answer as many or as few as you like, so long as you fill in the personal details section before submitting your response. The whole consultation background paper is here (for the very keen!).

Page: What materials will be collected

Question 1

What materials should be included?

Tick their last two options.

This would include cans, glass, cartons and cups as well as plastic. Including all materials would do most to reduce litter and improve recycling.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: What types of products will have a deposit on them

Question 7

What determines whether a drink is included?

Tick "Product it contains".

If a deposit system is limited to the most recyclable materials, some manufacturers might switch to a different material to avoid being part of the system. If a drink has a deposit on it whatever it's sold in, the incentive will be to use a material that's easy to get back and recycle.

Question 11

Should deposits be limited to "on the go" items?

Tick "No".

It's not possible to tell where someone will open a drink, and all sorts of drinks are currently littered and cause environmental and safety problems. Also, deposit systems separate materials, which is more efficient for recycling, and it makes no sense to let some high quality materials end up in mixed recycling. There's also a risk that producers will change the size of bottles and cans that they sell if only certain sizes are included in the system.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: Where you will be able to get the deposit back

Question 14

Where should containers be returned to?

Tick ‘Take back to a place that sells drinks’.

All shops above a certain size should take back any materials which they sell. The more places that accept empties, the easier it will be for people to take part, especially for people with disabilities or without access to a car. It should be as easy as possible for other places such as schools, churches and sports or music venues to accept returns if they want to.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: How much the deposit should be

Question 25

Do you have a preference for the deposit level?

Tick Yes and give a level in the comment box.

We think between 15p and 20p would be enough to see a very good recycling rate, but it's important that this amount can be changed in the future if necessary.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: About You

Put your personal information in and select your privacy preferences.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Last Step

Submit your consultation

Scroll to the bottom of the consultation page then click the blue 'Finish' button.

If you have a little more time to give your views on the best deposit return system for Scotland, please follow this guide below.

We think the following fourteen questions on the Scottish Government's consultation site are the key ones which will determine how successful the final system will be. You can answer as many or as few as you like so long as you fill in the personal details section before submitting your response on their site. The whole consultation background paper is here (be warned - it is 75 pages long!).

Page: What materials will be collected

Question 1

What materials should be included?

Tick their last two options.

This would include cans, glass, cartons and cups as well as plastic. Including all materials would do most to reduce litter and improve recycling.

Question 2

Should deposits be expanded in future to other materials?

Tick "Yes".

A deposit system needs to keep up with new materials and to look for opportunities to reduce other litter. Legislation should be put in place so that new products are automatically included.

Question 2a

What should we start with?

Tick "All".

The options listed would be a sensible start for an ambitious deposit system: plastic, cans, glass, cartons and disposable cups. Refillable bottles could be added later, although this isn’t an option the Scottish Government discuss. We think it's possible that coffee cups could be recovered through a separate similar system, or added at a second stage.

Question 4

Should other materials be included?

Tick "Yes".

We think it's very important that any system be universal, and not provide incentives for manufacturers to switch to materials without deposits to avoid taking part. Instead, the system should give producers an incentive for using materials that are easy to recycle and have a high content of recycled materials. Containers of all materials that drinks are sold in, (including bioplastics and compostable materials) should be given a ‘price’ for producers, according to how recyclable they are.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: ​What types of products will have a deposit on them

Question 7

What determines whether a drink is included?

Tick "Product it contains".

If a deposit system is limited to the most recyclable materials, some manufacturers might switch to a different material to avoid being part of the system. If a drink has a deposit on it whatever it's sold in, the incentive will be to use a material that's easy to get back and recycle.

Question 8

Are there any sorts of product that shouldn't have deposits on them?

Tick none of the boxes.

Everything on the Scottish Government's list can be included in a deposit system. We see some of the hygiene concerns about including milk, but a best practice deposit system can reduce or eliminate those. If milk itself is excluded, there must be clear regulations that include all other dairy-based drinks.

Question 11

Should deposits be limited to "on the go" items?

Tick "No".

It's not possible to tell where someone will open a drink, and all sorts of drinks are currently littered and cause environmental and safety problems. Also, deposit systems separate materials, which is more efficient for recycling, and it makes no sense to let some high quality materials end up in mixed recycling. There's also a risk that producers will change the size of bottles and cans that they sell if only certain sizes are included in the system.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: ​Where you will be able to get the deposit back

Question 14

Where should containers be returned to?

Tick "Take back to a place that sells drinks".

All shops above a certain size should take back any materials which they sell. The more places that accept empties, the easier it will be for people to take part, especially for people with disabilities or without access to a car. It should be as easy as possible for other places such as schools, churches and sports or music venues to accept returns if they want to.

Question 16

Should online retailers take containers back?

Tick "Yes".

Returning empties via online delivery vans is the most efficient and convenient solution here. It’s especially important that people with mobility issues are able to return their drinks containers to the person who delivers their shopping. Countries such as Norway and Germany have hygienic systems that work this way already. An app could also be made available to the public through which they could get their deposits back. Consideration should be given to those living in remote rural locations, as they may rely on less formal delivery arrangements.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: ​How the scheme will be paid for

Question 20

Should unredeemed deposits or other funding be ringfenced within the system to maintain and improve it, or should it be diverted for other purposes?

Tick "Funding should be ringfenced".

The financial stability of modern systems relies on the system operator controlling any unredeemed deposits, alongside the sale of recovered materials and a small producer fee.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: ​How much the deposit should be

Question 25

Do you have a preference for the deposit level?

Tick "Yes" and give a level in the comment box.

We think between 15p and 20p would be enough to see a very good recycling rate, but it's important that this amount can be changed in the future if necessary.

Question 26

Do you think different types of drinks containers should have a different deposit level?

Tick "No".

It would be confusing to have a different amount for different drinks, and might have unexpected negative effects (such as giving the impression it's less important to return smaller items, or push other changes to consumer behaviour in a less sustainable direction).

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: ​Examples of Deposit Return Schemes

Question 40

Which of the four examples do you think is the most ambitious?

Tick "Example 4".

Of the four examples set out, the first two are the 1970s model of return to out-of-town depots, as used in parts of America. They are inefficient and see lower return rates. The third example is essentially the Scandinavian or Baltic model (which are much better systems), albeit with a lower deposit. Return rates would therefore be below what could be achieved. The fourth option adds in more materials, so is the best of the four, but should take into account the proposed improvements we have suggested in earlier answers.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: ​​Co-operation with the other UK administrations

Question 49

Do you think being part of a UK-wide system would be beneficial for Scotland?

Tick "Yes".

It would be easier for consumers if any drinks container we buy in Scotland can be returned UK-wide and have the same deposit value. It would also mean producers would not incur unnecessary costs producing different labels for the same drinks, just because they're sold in different parts of the UK.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Page: About You

Put your personal information in and select your privacy preferences.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue 'Continue' button.

Last Step

Submit your consultation

Scroll to the bottom of the consultation page then click the blue 'Finish' button.

Thank you so much for taking part

We know from around the world that deposit return systems help reduce litter and boost recycling: taking part in this consultation will help make sure Scotland gets the best possible system! Let people know how to get involved by sharing our video on social media.