Overwhelming Scottish support for glass bottle returns

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 27 April 2019

Four out of five people in Scotland think that glass should be included in a national money-back recycling system.

Bottles for Change
© Ray Phan

Ministers must listen to consumers instead of those in industry with vested interests.

Calum Duncan,
MCS Head of Conservation, Scotland

Research carried out by YouGov for MCS shows that there’s even more support in Scotland for glass containers to be included in a Deposit Return Scheme(DRS)(85%), than plastic bottles (83%).

Sections of UK industry have been lobbying for a limited scheme which would not include all materials and container sizes, with some resisting the inclusion of glass bottles.

Ministers at Holyrood are expected to make a decision imminently on what DRS in Scotland will look like and campaigners, including MCS, hope it will set a high standard for the rest of the UK to follow.

MCS Head of Conservation Scotland, Calum Duncan, said: “It’s clear that people in Scotland back the idea of a money-back recycling system and we want the Scottish Government to lead the UK in designing one that is world-class.

“What is also evident from our polling is that most voters want glass, plastic, aluminium cans and other drinks cartons to be included, with glass at the very top of their list. Ministers must listen to consumers instead of those in industry with vested interests.”

The Scottish Government has already held a public consultation asking people in Scotland for their views on DRS and is expected to announce the design of the country’s scheme shortly. A separate consultation, which ends on May 13th, is being run by Defra which covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

MCS has led calls for compatible Deposit Return Schemes to be introduced across the UK. Last week, the charity launched its #BottlesforChange campaign by calling on retailers to support a comprehensive “all-in” scheme and urging Defra to resist industry lobbying.

The MCS poll showed that there’s overwhelming support for a system in Scotland that includes a wide range of drink container types. When asked what they thought should be included, 85% in Scotland said glass bottles, with 83% backing plastic bottles, followed by aluminium cans (74%), and drinks cartons made of more than one material type (61%).

After plastic pieces, glass (an average of 78 items per 100m) was number 2 on the list of most picked up items of litter found by volunteers on the MCS-organised Great British Beach Clean in Scotland last year.

Jenni Hume, Campaign Manager of Have You Got The Bottle? said: “It’s no surprise that people across Scotland are so determined to see glass bottles included in our deposit return system. Broken glass on our streets is a particular risk for young people and for pets and wild animals, and the “glass cheque” is the best way to keep that litter to a minimum.

“Deposit return is also about making producers responsible for the materials they use. If glass - the most carbon-intensive material there is - is exempted, there would be a perverse incentive for businesses to switch to glass. Ministers must choose: will they back public demands for glass to be included, and will they support jobs in Scotland’s glass recycling sector?”

MCS is urging people to respond to Defra’s consultation before May 13th. Taking part takes just two minutes at www.bottlesforchange.uk Supporters in Scotland can write to their MSPs at www.act.foe.scot/deposit-return-system

Actions you can take

  1. Survey showing public support
  2. Report your #wildbottlesighting using our form
  3. Take your own reusable bottle out and about
  4. Learn about Deposit Return Systems
  5. Join the Plastic Challenge
  6. See our map of reported bottle sightings

Did you know?…

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces