The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) is the charity which promotes the care of all of Scotland’s rural landscapes. We campaign with others for better national landscape and planning policies. We advise our members and others how best to protect the local landscapes which they value as the settings for their lives.

APRS was founded in 1926 and has been concerned about litter in the countryside for most of the time since. In 2014 we became aware of the Scottish Government’s interest in a deposit return system (DRS) for drinks containers and decided to campaign in favour of this because of the benefits it would bring to Scotland: not just litter reduction, but also higher recycling rates, climate change mitigation, job creation in the circular economy and savings for local councils.

We were then introduced by a fellow charity to a Norwegian company (Tomra Systems ASA) which manufactures sensor-based equipment for effective resource management, including reverse vending machines for drinks containers. We commenced a dialogue with them, following which they provided funding towards the deposit return campaign we were planning to commence.  This funding is provided on the basis that Tomra has no influence over our campaign strategy, and that if a deposit return scheme is introduced in Scotland there can be no guarantee that this will result in business for them.

Our work is also part funded by The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation; one of the UK’s largest independent grant makers. Their funding will be allocated to specific projects within the campaign.

We launched the ‘Have You Got The Bottle?’ campaign in September 2015. Six organisations supported the campaign from the start: Community Resources Network Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland, the Marine Conservation Society, Spokes, Surfers Against Sewage and WWF Scotland. The campaign has grown to more than 90 supporters, including breweries, charities, restaurants, retailers, social enterprises and universities.

Countries around the world – from Canada to Australia to Germany – with a DRS regularly see a recycling rate of over 90% and dramatic reductions in litter from drinks containers. And people in Scotland would welcome DRS: a poll we commissioned in 2015 showed that nearly 79% of people in Scotland support its introduction.

We welcome productive discussion and collaboration with charities, individuals, business and government on what would be best for Scotland’s communities, businesses and environment. We publish our annual report and financial statements on our website and we urge anyone engaging with us to be as transparent about their sources of funding, and any associated agendas, as we are with ours.

John Mayhew

APRS Director

Originally posted in February 2016, updated in January 2018.