Why glass should be included in Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme

Why glass should be included in Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme


APRS media release

For immediate release

Reacting to the latest regulations for the Scottish deposit return system [1], just published, campaigners highlighted the importance of including glass drinks bottles in the system, unlike in the current plans for an equivalent English system.

Capturing 90% of single use glass through the deposit return scheme will allow Scotland to recycle 504 million glass bottles every year, saving more than 1.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions over the next 25 years.

Glass bottle going into reverse vending machine

The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland has estimated that the Scottish scheme will result in 31% more carbon savings than the scheme in England and Northern Ireland as they exclude glass, the most carbon intensive material used in single use drinks containers [2].

UK Ministers continue to refuse to honour their manifesto pledge to “introduce a deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass” [3], even though both Scotland and Wales will do so.

Dr Kat Jones, Director of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland [4], said:

“It’s time for Rishi Sunak to end the uncertainty and bring glass into the English deposit system, in line with an explicit Conservative manifesto promise. Polling shows that the majority of the British public want glass included. Why should they not be able to return their glass bottles alongside cans and plastic bottles?

“Glass is the most carbon-intensive material, and the most important to include in any system. Littered glass hurts wildlife, pets, and livestock, injures people who do outdoor sports, and is even associated with wildfires. If England persists with this weaker system, we will quickly see the difference in terms of litter in towns and countryside. Prime Minister: please step up so England isn’t condemned to decades more glass litter.”

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, CEO of Keep Britain Tidy, said:

“England urgently needs a deposit return scheme that includes glass. Glass litter costs millions of pounds each year to local authorities who are responsible for removing dangerous broken shards from the environment, where it harms people and animals and blights communities. By the government’s own estimation, a deposit return scheme could reduce littering of glass bottles by 85% and increase our stagnant recycling rates to more than 90%.

“We know that including glass in the deposit return scheme is popular with industry, environmental groups and the public: The government needs to respond to the evidence and public demand and bring in a deposit return scheme for glass that will benefit people and the environment for generations to come.”


  1. See: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/sdsi/2023/9780111057476
  2. Based on data from Zero Waste Scotland, which says adding glass will save 50,000 tonnes CO2 per year and overall carbon savings will be 160,000 tonnes per year https://depositreturnscheme.zerowastescotland.org.uk/glass
  3. See p43: https://www.conservatives.com/our-plan/conservative-party-manifesto-2019
  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.

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