DRS will be turning point for recycling - Lorna Slater

Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversityLorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity
Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity
Last week I was delighted to announce that producers responsible for over 90 per cent of drink containers in Scotland have registered for the Deposit Return Scheme.

This is an important milestone and a huge vote of confidence in the scheme. It means that almost all the cans and bottles you see in the fridge at your local shop will be included.

The scheme is simple, and we can all take part in.

From August 16, when we buy a drink in a bottle or can we will pay a 20p deposit. Once we are finished with our drink we can return the empty container to one of the thousands of return points that will be available and claim that 20p back.

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We can all see the problem. It is around us every day. Whether it is the cans in the street or in our rivers or the broken bottles that have been smashed or discarded around our parks or left on public transport.

From our bustling city centres to our quietest cul de sacs and from our tallest mountains to our deepest seas and most beautiful beaches, there are cans and bottles being discarded across our country when they could easily be reused.

There is a clear need, but also a demand, with polls showing over 70 per cent of people in Scotland support the scheme, and almost 90 per cent intend to use it.

When similar initiatives have been introduced in countries like Norway, Germany and Canada they have been huge successes.

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One positive side effect has been the enthusiasm they have generated.

Many have shown a big uptake from community groups and sports teams who will often volunteer to clear up after big events, getting lots of plastic bottles and cans in the process and being able to trade them in for extra funding.

It is incredibly encouraging that such an overwhelming proportion of products are covered, but we want as many companies as possible to participate.

In February we announced a £22 million package to support small brewers, distillers, importers and drinks manufacturers as they made preparations. We are continuing to work with them so that we can get them all on board.

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There has been no end of opportunistic political attacks that we have seen from the Tories in particular, who have tried their best to undermine it.

Their scaremongering won’t work. Businesses have already spent millions of pounds on preparations. Automatic return machines are already being ordered by retailers across the country and we are creating over 500 green jobs, with recruitment already well underway.

With less than six months to go, I am confident that it will come to be recognised as one of the most important pieces of work done by this parliament.

It represents an important turning point for Scotland’s relationship with recycling and will provide a model for how successful deposit return schemes can operate across the UK.

Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity

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