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Deposit Return Scheme: ‘A game changer for recycling’ but at what cost to the recycling industry in Scotland?

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management

2 min read Partner content

Responding to the announcement yesterday by the Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham on a Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland, CIWM Scotland has said it is keen that the Scottish resources industry is given a more inclusive role to support the implementation of the scheme.


To date, the industry has not been afforded the same high levels of contact as other sectors, with minimal direct engagement beyond the consultation exercise. CIWM members have a wide base of knowledge from collections to reprocessing of high quality recycling materials yet many find that this valuable resource is being ignored by the Scottish Government.

CIWM Scotland’s opinion is that the introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme should complement the existing high performing recycling collections, and further support the reprocessing sector in Scotland, by focusing on more difficult to recycle materials.

Many of the European reference deposit return systems were introduced in areas without high performing kerbside collections systems, unlike in Scotland where some authorities have the highest performing collections systems in the UK.

The announcement indicates that the system will include all PET beverage containers, cans, and glass drinks containers, with only HDPE being left out of the mix. This will result in the diversion of high value materials from kerbside collections, undermining previous investments predicated on the material streams, and industry’s ongoing commitment to delivering the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012.

The longer-term economic viability for both the collection and reprocessing of the remaining lower value materials is a key question that needs to be addressed not only in the context of the Deposit Return Scheme but for the forthcoming packaging Extended Producer Responsibility reforms, which have been broadly welcomed by the industry. We will need to ensure that in the long term we still have a viable industry that can respond to, support and implement the collection and reprocessing requirements for new recyclable materials, and materials with higher recycled content that will become available to the Scottish consumer.

Bruce Reekie, Chair of CIWM Scotland, stated:

“In the short term we will need to ensure we have  a viable industry that can work with a Deposit Return Scheme and we would welcome the opportunity to be part of the Deposit Return Scheme Implementation Advisory Group to ensure our industry’s expertise and experiences can be used constructively and that we can be directly engaged to support the implementation of the Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland.

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