Midlothian Councillors have today backed a Scottish deposit return system for drinks cans and bottles, following Aberdeenshire Council’s unanimous support for the idea earlier this month.

Midlothian Council will now write to the Scottish Government to urge Ministers to back a deposit return system to complement local authorities’ existing services. The motion also commits the Council to collaborating on this issue with Aberdeenshire Council and with other Scottish local authorities which come on board.

A poll released last year showed 78.8% support in Scotland for a deposit return system, with opposition at just 8.5% (1). The national campaign to support its introduction is called “Have You Got The Bottle?”, established last year by APRS and backed by 21 partner organisations (2). Research published by the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland estimated that a deposit return system could save Scottish local authorities £13m annually on litter and waste collection(3). Deposit return systems internationally typically see return rates of around 95% (4).

Green Councillor Ian Baxter, who proposed the motion, said:

“For far too long local authorities have been left to pick up after the drinks industry. Local taxpayers across Scotland pay substantial sums to collect littered cans and bottles, to empty street bins, and to pick up household waste. Deposit return would bring us very welcome cost savings, estimated at £13m a year across Scotland, as well as sharply reducing our litter problem and bringing the prospect of more jobs locally in the recycling industry.

“I’m therefore delighted to secure backing for this approach from all parties here on Midlothian Council. We will be urging the Scottish Government to bring forward a deposit return system for drinks cans and bottles as soon as possible after the Holyrood election. We will also be working with other Councils, including Aberdeenshire, to ensure that the system chosen fits well with our existing services and delivers the maximum benefit for Midlothian residents.”

SNP Councillor Andrew Coventry, who seconded the motion, said:

“At the moment, council tax payers meet the costs of recycling, clean-up of litter and landfill, irrespective of their purchases. But under a drinks container deposit refund scheme, the costs of dealing with beverage packaging would be met by industry and by those who forego their right to the refund of their deposit. Litter rates would fall, our streets would be cleaner and recycling would increase dramatically.”

John Mayhew, Director of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, said:

“First Aberdeenshire, now Midlothian: this campaign has substantial momentum behind it, with local authorities, with business and campaign groups, and we know it’s overwhelmingly popular with the Scottish people. When the new Scottish Parliament starts work in May, after the election, introducing a deposit return system has got to be a top priority.

“We will look back with disbelief on a time when the drinks industry was content to see their empties go into landfill or incinerators, or even into our parks and verges. You only have to visit one of the many places around the world where deposit return already works smoothly to see the benefits: clean streets, closed-loop recycling, reduced costs for local taxpayers, and an attitude that sees waste as a resource and an opportunity, not a problem.”

ENDS

1. 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%

2. 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:
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.

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