A deposit return system will do a lot of good for Scotland. One of its benefits will be substantially reducing drinks container litter, leaving our pavements, hills and beaches free from these large, colourful and sometimes dangerous objects.
Scotland spends £75 million a year dealing with litter and its effects. That money could be far better spent on other public services.
Many people spend hours voluntarily clearing up litter. Their time could be better spent on other social activities.
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.