All across Scotland, whenever cans or bottles are discarded, it’s up to local council staff to go round picking them up. It’s hard work, and the amount of litter makes it extremely expensive for local taxpayers. Reducing litter, which deposit return systems do around the world, would save both councils and the public substantial sums across the country.

Litter isn’t just expensive to deal with – it’s also really unpopular, and for good reason. Who wants to take their kids to play in a park strewn with empty bottles? Or to find discarded cans in their garden? A well-run deposit return system will help every community in Scotland, whether rural or urban, look more attractive, and be more appealing to live and work in.

There are other benefits for local councils, too. Some cans and bottles are of course already collected through kerbside recycling, and even though they are less well-sorted than the material recovered by a deposit return system, they do have a value. However, a deposit return system will typically save money overall by reducing both the volume of recycling that councils need to collect and the number of journeys council vehicles need to make.

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Local government in New South Wales lobbied for a deposit return system, estimating it would save them $62m each year.

Local authorities estimated that it would cut their recycling bills by 40%. New South Wales will begin a deposit return system in July 2017.

A review of proposals for Catalonia estimated that between €12m and €33m would be saved by municipalities on collection alone

The executive summary of the February 2014 report can be found here.


“As a community development charity with environmental objectives that operates in one of Scotland’s most beautiful, biodiverse and popular tourism areas we support a deposit return system. Sadly pollution from plastics and other materials people throw away  is a problem on Mull and Iona, degrading both the local environmental and visitors’ experience.  Working on an island we also have the challenge of limited space and resources for landfilling and processing.  So initiatives (particularly schemes like this which are proven to work) that tackle littering and promote recycling will benefit both local people and those who visit our special islands!”

Mull and Iona Community Trust

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