One benefit of a deposit return scheme in Scotland will be substantially reduced drinks container litter, leaving our towns, countryside, rivers and beaches free from discarded drinks containers. This will benefit the wellbeing of humans and wildlife, reduce fire risks, and help protect the beauty of our landscape.

Scotland spends £75 million a year dealing with litter and its effects. A deposit return scheme could reduce the amount we spend as a result of litter, allowing this money to be redirected towards other community amenities.

In addition, the responsibility for cleaning up litter currently falls on local councils, volunteer groups, and individuals.

The reason a deposit return system significantly reduces drinks container litter is because the deposit puts a value on the container. People might be tempted to throw litter but they don’t throw money away. And if they decide to drop litter anyway, someone else will pick up the container in order to get the money. That’s why deposit return systems are so successful – everyone’s motivated to make it work.

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The Marine Conservation Society argue that deposit return would reduce litter on Scotland’s beaches

“We hope that in time a Deposit Return Scheme can be rolled out across Scotland leading to measurable reductions in litter, including marine litter, as already recorded in places as varied as Germany and South Australia.” from the Marine Conservation Society statement here.

US States with deposit return schemes see substantial reductions in litter, the evidence shows

Research shows the typical rate of drinks container litter has been reduced by 70%-84%, in states that use deposit return, and the overall amount of litter has typically been reduced by 34%-47%.

In addition to reducing packaging litter directly, research suggests deposit return would help reduce other litter too

A deposit return system for beverage containers could realistically be expected to cut the quantity of these items that are littered – and the resulting reduction in the amount of packaging litter in the environment would also be predicted to cut the rate of littering of non-deposit bearing items.Research by Chris Sherrington for Isonomia.


“Visiting a mountain bothy is a great way of appreciating Scotland’s natural beauty. The experience can however be blighted if visitors leave behind empty tins, bottles and other litter.  A deposit return system would encourage people to take these items away with them for recycling and thus help to protect our environment and promote more sustainable use of resources. We think that it is a great idea.”

Mountain Bothies Association

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