Zero Waste Scotland DRS0078
Written evidence from Zero Waste Scotland
Details on what the specific needs and unique characteristics of the Scottish market are, and how they have influenced the design of the Scottish scheme;
The deposit return scheme for Scotland is designed for the Scottish market. Each component and decision on the design of the scheme is focused on maximising the performance of a deposit return scheme in a Scottish context. It delivers a system which will maximise both the quantity and quality of material collected for recycling, change behaviours around littering, help tackle climate change and deliver maximum economic and societal benefits for Scotland. The below focusses on key decisions around the administration of the scheme, access to return points and setting the deposit level.
The scheme was designed in collaboration with industry to ensure the characteristics of the Scottish market were catered for in the design. This included significant stakeholder engagement pre and post public consultation and the formation of an Implementation Advisory Group with 11 industry associations representing those with obligations in delivery of the scheme for Scotland.
Scotland has a large proportion of rural and island areas including 94 inhabited islands. It is necessary for the scheme to equally incentivise return and collection of containers from anywhere a drink in scheme packaging can be purchased. This influenced the decision to have a designated scheme administrator(s) with a 90% performance target acting for all of Scotland. This ensures that rural areas are treated equitably with urban areas where collection of materials can be more economical.
Access to return points is vital for a high performing scheme. Given the geography of Scotland, the decision was taken to ensure that all retailers selling scheme packaging had an obligation to accept scheme packaging in return. This maximises the availability of return points for the public to redeem their deposits and therefore for scheme packaging to be returned for recycling. In some areas, particularly dense urban locations there are opportunities for retailers to collaborate if an alternative return point of equal convenience is available and has agreed to accept containers. This ensures that each area is appropriately and proportionately served by a return point.
Scotland has an existing collection infrastructure for drinks containers targeted by the deposit return scheme. These existing kerbside and communal point collection schemes are not operating at the same performance levels as can be seen from deposit return schemes in operation. There is a need for significant behaviour change to meet the performance target of the scheme that requires the public to recycle their drinks containers via a return point rather than their existing collection infrastructure. The deposit is the means of incentivising this. £0.20 was deemed to be the appropriate level for the deposit to ensure the incentive exists for this behaviour change to happen. This value is also similar to the level of deposit in successful schemes abroad and was the mean level suggested by responses to the Scottish Government’s public consultation.