Aberdeenshire Council today unanimously backed Democratic Independent and Green Councillor Paul Johnston’s motion supporting the introduction of a deposit return system for single-use cans and bottles.

The motion commits Aberdeenshire Council to the following:
1.      to send a letter from the Council Leaders to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, supporting the principle of a deposit return system for Scotland, and urging him to involve local authorities in the design of a system which works efficiently alongside local authority waste management services and third sector recycling;
2.      to work with other Scottish local authorities where possible to support a well-designed deposit return system, prioritising a reduction in littering, improvements to recycling rates, ease of use for consumers and small businesses, reductions in the volume of household waste and waste collected from public bins, and the delivery of cost savings to local taxpayers.

The ‘Have You Got The Bottle?’ campaign to introduce a deposit return system for Scotland is led by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) and backed by 21 partner organisations, representing around 280,000 members across Scotland (1). Just this month the campaign has been joined by Eco-Congregation Scotland, Leithers Don’t Litter, the Mountaineering Council for Scotland, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Scotland.

This approach is overwhelmingly popular in Scotland, with a poll released last year showing 78.8% support in Scotland for a deposit return system, with just 8.5% opposed (2). Research published by the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland concluded that a deposit return system would work in Scotland (3), could save Scottish local authorities £13m annually on litter and waste costs. Return rates with well-designed deposit return systems are typically around 95% (4).

John Mayhew, Director of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, said:
“It’s great to add Aberdeenshire Council to our list of supporters for a Scottish deposit return system, a list which now includes recycling businesses and small retailers as well as charities with hundreds of thousands of members between them. We know deposit return works exceptionally well elsewhere, helping to reduce litter and carbon emissions. Without this change it will be almost impossible to meet Scotland’s recycling targets.

“We’ve long argued that it is unfair to council taxpayers for them to cover all the costs of litter and waste collection, and we know from research commissioned by Zero Waste Scotland that deposit return could save around £13m a year just in litter and waste management costs. I hope that Aberdeenshire Council will be just the first of many local authorities to press Scottish Ministers to bring in deposit return for cans and bottles.”

Councillor Paul Johnston said:
“I’m grateful to my colleagues for their unanimous support today. Many people have fond memories of bottle deposits, and we know that a modern deposit return system could work here just as well as it does in so many places around the world. The international evidence is mounting that this is a win-win situation, an opportunity to save substantial sums of money and protect the environment at the same time. Better use of resources means we can reduce waste and litter, boost employment in the circular economy, and contribute to tackling climate change.

“Aberdeenshire Council’s leaders will now be writing to the Scottish Government to support the introduction of deposit return for Scotland. They will urge Ministers to involve local authorities in the design of a system that can best meet the needs of local residents and small businesses, and I hope Ministers will listen. We will also seek to work with other Councils across Scotland to support the development of a system which can works well alongside the services we provide for all of Scotland’s households.”

ENDS
1. The campaign, launched in September 2015, calls on the Scottish Government to bring in a deposit return system under the powers already passed as part of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. More information is available here:
http://www.haveyougotthebottle.org.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/HaveYouGotTheBottleScotland
https://twitter.com/yougotthebottle

For more information about APRS, see:
http://www.ruralscotland.btck.co.uk

The founding partners of ‘Have You Got The Bottle?’ who are working alongside APRS are Friends of the Earth Scotland, the Marine Conservation Society, the Community Resources Network Scotland, Spokes, Surfers Against Sewage and WWF Scotland.  Along with those who have joined recently – including Changeworks Recycling, Fidra, Ramblers Scotland, RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust – the coalition’s combined membership represent nearly 150,000 people in Scotland, with wider work reaching hundreds of thousands more in all 32 local authority areas.

2. Survation polled 1,011 Scottish adults aged 16 and over, 12-17 February 2015, on behalf of APRS.

Data were weighted by age, sex, region, 2011 Holyrood vote and 2014 referendum vote. Survation is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. The question asked was: Elsewhere, including in Denmark, Canada and Germany, a small deposit is paid to retailers when you buy drinks cans and bottles and fully refunded by retailers when you return the container, in order to increase recycling and reduce litter. To what extent would you support or oppose the introduction of a similar type of system in Scotland? (results exclude 4.9% who did not give an answer)

Strongly support: 41.1%
Somewhat support: 37.7%
TOTAL SUPPORT: 78.8%
Neither support nor oppose: 12.7%
Somewhat oppose: 5.2%
Strongly oppose: 3.3%
TOTAL OPPOSE: 8.5%

3.  The Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Government deposit return feasibility study is here:
http://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/content/deposit-return-system-feasibility-study

4. Michigan figures:
http://www.bottlebill.org/assets/pdfs/Michigan%202014%20with%20percent%20redeemed%20For%20Distribution%20Through2014.pdf
Sweden figures:
http://is.gd/DepRSwe
Norway figures on p54 of this report:
http://infinitum.no/file/14/9c78839f48be440a5ef59155090b203c/20150818_infinitum_a%CC%8Arsrapport_engelsk.pdf