Plastic bottle on the shoreline Canetti

Scotland votes for Deposit Return Scheme

2 minute read

After over five years of campaigning alongside our supporters and partners, on 13th May 2020, the Scottish Parliament voted through the final piece of legislation needed to put Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) into place.

While this is fantastic news, the Marine Conservation Society was disappointed that the Scottish Government delayed the start of the system from April 2021 to July 2022. During this time, our beaches will continue to be blighted by increasing numbers of bottles, cans and glass. We are concerned by what the delay might mean for other parts of the UK and are calling on political leaders to ensure working towards lower carbon emissions and a circular economy is still a priority. Our work is far from over.

Scotland’s DRS is a huge win for our ocean, so we want to celebrate the news with you all, as we did not achieve this on our own.

Thank you to all of our Beachwatch volunteers for collecting crucial data on how much glass, metal and plastic in the form of bottles and cans were turning up on Scottish beaches. When it's safe to do so, we'll be relying on you to help collect that data again so we can show the positive impact of Scotland’s DRS just as we did with the 5p carrier bag charge.



of inland cleans found face masks and PPE in 2021



drop in plastic bags found on UK beaches since 5p charge was introduced

Thank you to everyone who emailed MSPs and Scottish Government ministers to ask them to look at the evidence and take the right action for our ocean.

Thank you also to all our friends and partners who helped make this happen. An especially big shout out to the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland who expertly ran the Have You Got The Bottle? campaign, of which we were proud founding members. This campaign coalition of over 100 organisations was crucial to the success we will be celebrating in July 2022.

The UK Government has committed to implementing a DRS in England in 2023, a full year beyond the delayed date of the Scottish system starting. In Wales a similar date is being considered. We will be continuing our work to ensure the DRS is the best it can be and that systems are brought in across the UK as soon as possible to help free our ocean of bottles and cans.

We want to see Deposit Return Schemes rolled out across the rest of the UK to have the maximum benefit for our seas. Please watch out for how you can help make that happen.

It is not only cans and bottles spoiling our beaches, so we will keep pushing for the changes we still need to stop the tide of litter hitting our seas and shores. We hope you will all continue to support our work towards achieving clean seas and beaches.

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