New firm named to oversee Scotland's cash-back bottle recycling scheme

A newly formed not-for-profit company has been selected to oversee the operation of Scotland’s new cash-back recycling scheme for bottles and plastic.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 5:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 5:10 pm

A nationwide deposit-return system (DRS) is due to be rolled out in July next year.

As administrator, Circularity Scotland will be responsible for making sure it functions efficiently and meets its annual collection targets.

The DRS will require consumers to pay a 20p deposit when they buy goods in a glass bottle, can or PET plastic container, which will be reimbursed when the empties are returned.

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Newly formed not-for-profit firm Circularity Scotland has been named as administrator for Scotland's reverse-vending recycling scheme, which is due to be rolled out in July 2022

It is expected to collect at least 90 per cent of drinks containers across Scotland, boosting recycling rates and reducing the amount of plastic ending up as litter and marine plastic pollution.

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Scotland’s deposit-return system: how it will work

The firm will organise the collection of empty bottles and cans from thousands of reverse-vending machines and manual return points that will be located across Scotland.

Circularity Scotland is made up of industry representatives from across the food and drink sector, including supermarket giants, newsagents and big-name beverage brands such Tennent’s, Coca-Cola and Irn Bru.

The organisation will work with companies throughout the supply chain – from producers through to hospitality, wholesalers and retailers - to operate the system.

Donald McCalman, interim director of Circularity Scotland, said: “The deposit return scheme is a game-changer for Scotland’s ambition to become a greener and cleaner country.

“It supports a circular economy and the Scottish Government’s ambitious plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.”

He said the appointment would allow Circularity Scotland to help create “a world-class” system.

He added: “We will work closely with companies and trade associations throughout the supply chain to develop and operate a DRS system that works for all.”

Environment and climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham has welcomed Circularity Scotland’s new role.

“This is a significant milestone in a scheme which will improve the quality and quantity of our recycling, contribute towards our net-zero targets and significantly reduce litter,” she said.

“I am grateful for the industry’s collective commitment to move ahead with the scheme, despite the pressures of Covid-19 over the past year, and we look forward to working with them to make the deposit-return scheme a success.”

Zero Waste Scotland research predicts that introduction of a DRS in Scotland will result in 34,000 fewer plastic bottles, cans and glasses dumped as litter in Scotland each day.

Estimates suggest this could also result in savings of £62 million a year on the costs of tackling the indirect impacts, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 160,000 tonnes each year – equivalent to taking 83,000 cars off the road.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Scotland’s DRS will be an important part of our journey towards a more circular economy, challenging throwaway culture and contributing to the fight against climate change.”

Plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans collected by Circularity Scotland will be recycled and fed back into the production cycle for new bottles and cans.

The scheme is projected to cut four million tonnes of carbon emissions over 25 years.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland intend to launch their own deposit-return schemes from 2023 onwards.

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