Yet more delay jeopardises deposit return

APRS media release

For immediate release, 7th June 2023

Environmental campaigners reacted with deep dismay to the Scottish Government’s announcement that they intend to delay deposit return for a fourth time, to align with a UK system which has yet to be designed and agreed [1].

Dr Kat Jones, Director of Action to Protect Rural Scotland [2], said:

“This is a bleak day for anyone who cares about Scotland’s litter crisis, or indeed the global climate crisis. The UK Government’s own documents show that the October 2025 date is at best provisional, describing it as “a stretching target date” and that the feasibility of it is still being assessed. 

“Effectively, this puts deposit return on hold indefinitely, and as a result we will continue to see cans and bottles littered in substantial numbers across Scotland for years to come. It is a victory for those in industry who have never wanted to pick up the costs of their irresponsible business model.”

Catherine Gemmell, Scotland Conservation Officer for the Marine Conservation Society said: 

“It’s a huge disappointment that our seas will continue to pay the price for our waste as Scotland’s deposit return scheme is delayed yet again, two days after World Environment Day with a focus to beat plastic pollution, and the day before World Ocean Day. 

“Governments across the UK have been working on deposit return schemes for years, if not decades, yet sadly we are still no closer. We know schemes like this work. Progress on this scheme must continue so we can take control of these kinds of pollution amidst the climate and nature emergency.”

Kim Pratt, Circular Economy Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“It’s shocking that the deposit return scheme has been forced to delay again so close to its planned start date, after many years of preparation and significant financial investment. The UK Government’s decision to block Scotland from including glass is shameful, and the delay means even more environmental destruction.

“The disastrous intervention into this simple scheme undermines the people of Scotland and shows that the environmental crisis we’re facing is not being taken seriously.”

Jenni Hume, Project Coordinator at Reloop, said:

“The UK Government’s intervention in Scotland’s system was against international best practice, and at odds with their own recent decision to support the inclusion of glass in the proposed Welsh system. However, there are examples of successful systems without glass, and the Scottish Government’s decision to put deposit return on cans and PET bottles on hold will ensure the current high levels of wasted drinks containers will continue for the foreseeable future.

“Our 2019 figures showed that 920.2 million drinks containers were wasted across Scotland, in other words littered in towns, cities and the countryside, lost into the marine environment, landfilled, or incinerated. 437.4 million of that total were cans, 334.9 million were PET plastic bottles, and 147.9 million were glass bottles – so the bulk would have been captured by even the reduced system UK Ministers were prepared to allow.

“We’ll soon see new systems in places like Ireland, Austria, and Australia; expansions in Quebec and Lithuania; it is disappointing that Scotland will not be joining them.”



2. APRS (Action to Protect 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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