We began our campaign for a deposit return system for bottles and cans in 2015, because our members were upset about the amount of litter in Scotland’s countryside and rural areas. We’ve seen first hand how effective deposit return systems are at reducing drinks-related litter in places like Norway, where they’ve had deposit return for many years.
So we were delighted when the First Minster announced in September 2017 that Scotland will get a deposit return system. Together with our coalition of more than one hundred organisations and many members of the public, we responded to the Scottish Government’s public consultation last summer.
Last month, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform announced findings from the public consultation. She said it’s clear that people want an accessible and convenient deposit return system, which is ambitious about what materials are included. While we’re delighted to hear this, we are now very concerned about timing. For each extra day we wait for a deposit return system to start, more than 140,000 bottles and cans are littered in Scotland alone!
We’ve created a big litter counter (scroll down!) to show how much this number increases as we continue to wait for news of how and when Scotland will get a deposit return system. Theses numbers are based on research by Eunomia, an independent environmental consultancy. You can read about how they made these calculations here.
There’s plenty of evidence from the places that already have deposit return, to show that it’s a tool for changing behaviour and so leads to less litter being dropped. Research from the United States highlights an 80% reduction in the littering of deposit bearing items. Beach cleaners in Norway have found that five out of six bottles washed up on their beaches come from places that don’t have a deposit return.
It’s time Scotland cleaned up our act. We have a bold commitment from the Scottish Government, and we can’t wait any longer to get started!