Scotland to investigate deposit scheme for recycling of drinks containers


Zero Waste Scotland is to look at the feasibility of introducing a drinks container deposit scheme for increasing recycling.

Following a visit to Sweden in which he saw a deposit scheme in action, Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead wants to look at whether it is possible to replicate the idea in Scotland.


In Sweden, a small deposit is added to the cost of the container, which is refunded when it is returned. The scheme, which was introduced for cans in 1984 and extended to plastic bottles in 1994, achieves a recycling rate of 85 per cent.

Richard Lochhead said: “The Deposit Return Scheme in Sweden is a great example of how a country has promoted the benefits of recycling into everyday life while also having a positive impact on litter. I was amazed at the cleanliness of the streets in Sweden and cannot recall seeing an item of litter throughout my trip.

“The scheme has also created new industries and investment in jobs and skills to process these valuable materials – something I want to see emulated for Scotland’s economy.

“It is a simple scheme which offers customers financial incentives to recycle glass bottles and cans when on the go, and it has clearly been successful in Sweden.

“Scotland’s litter problem could be turned into a resource. At least half of littered items are suitable for recycling, such as plastic bottles and aluminium cans. This is around £1.2 million worth of material every year.”

In Scotland, eight different ‘Recycle and Reward’ schemes have been piloted since the start of this year.

Zero Waste Scotland director Iain Gulland said: “We very much welcome the news that the Government wants to look at the feasibility of extending the deposit scheme we’re running. Recycling is about keeping and reusing valuable materials and returning drinks containers is a simple step people could take to help make Scotland a zero waste society.

“It could also play a part in making our country litter-free.”