Don’t Shelve Deposit Return

Don’t Shelve Deposit Return

APRS press release

Under embargo for 11:00, 24th May 2023

Campaigners outside Tesco with two recovered trollies full of littered bottles and cans

The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) and volunteers from Fife Street Champions have demonstrated outside Tesco Duloch, calling on the supermarket chain to support Scotland’s upcoming deposit return scheme. The campaigners brought littered trollies filled with littered cans and bottles which were collected by local litter picking group Fife Street Champions.

The average Scottish household buys roughly 130kg of single-use grocery packaging each year, at a cost of almost £250, which generates an estimated 650,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year [1]. Campaigners say that Scotland’s upcoming deposit return scheme will reduce litter by one third and result in £62 million in annual savings nationwide [2].

The Scottish scheme was originally due to begin in April 2021, and has since been delayed three times. Delays so far will have resulted in 2.7 billion drinks containers being littered, landfilled, or incinerated, and almost 500,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere [3].

Tesco have recently called on the Scottish Government to delay the scheme for a fourth time to align with the introduction of the scheme launch in the rest of the UK. However, campaigners have criticised this move as the launch date of October 2025 for the scheme in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland has been described as ‘stretching’, giving little confidence to the scheme beginning on time.

Kat Jones, director of APRS [4], said
“Everyone is trying to make changes to address the waste we produce and ensure a more sustainable Scotland. However, some, such as supermarkets, have far greater responsibility in doing so. At this stage, calling for further delays to the Scottish deposit return scheme is an utter betrayal of our environment.

“A deposit return scheme is a key circular economy policy which aims to address litter and waste. This week I received some online advertising from Tesco saying that they are ‘committed to putting less plastic in your trolley’ but are they committed to less plastic on our streets and in our countryside?”

David Spence, a volunteer with litter picking group Fife Street Champions, said
“If you run a profitable business and your business activity has a negative effect on the environment, either directly or indirectly, then surely you have a moral duty to do all you can, to mitigate that effect”.

Additional Information

[1] Based on data from Zero Waste Scotland https://www.circularonline.co.uk/news/report-highlights-scotlands-hidden-cost-of-single-use-packaging/

[2] Based on data from Zero Waste Scotland https://depositreturnscheme.zerowastescotland.org.uk/index.php/litter

[3] Based on data from Zero Waste Scotland https://depositreturnscheme.zerowastescotland.org.uk/index.php/benefits

[4] APRS (The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland) is Scotland’s countryside charity. We campaign to promote, enhance and protect Scotland’s countryside and rural landscapes for everyone’s benefit, and support others to do the same. We have been running the Have You Got the Bottle? campaign since 2014, advocating for a successful and comprehensive deposit return scheme for Scotland.

Today APRS wrote to Tesco CEO and Tesco UK/ROI CEO to ask for their support for the deposit return scheme. The full letter is here Letter to Tesco CEOs – Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (aprs.scot)

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