Shallow waters in summertime in the Hebrides on the West coast of Scotland Joost Van Uffelen

Help us demand Scottish politicians keep their word on deposit return scheme

3 minute read

On Tuesday, the First Minister will set out the new shared Programme for Government. We are asking you to urge Lorna Slater MSP, Minister for Circular Economy, to ensure Scotland's deposit return scheme is delivered as promised to protect Scottish seas from more litter pollution.

As a historic agreement is announced between the Scottish Government and Scottish Greens, we are pleased that they have committed to increasing protection for marine areas. But with no mention of the delayed deposit return scheme, we need to make sure this is confirmed next week.

Tweet the Scottish Minister Circular Economy today

When the plans for this government are shared in Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, we want to make sure the deposit return scheme is at the top of their agenda. This is a unique opportunity to have our voices heard.

Tweet Lorna Slater MSP, Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, to call for the vital deposit return scheme to stay on track and start on 1st of July 2022. 

A new era for Scottish conservation

Last week, the Scottish Government and Scottish Greens published an agreement outlining the terms of their collaboration in government. Although final details are still being confirmed, the document sets out their intention in the following key areas:

  • climate emergency
  • economic recovery
  • child poverty
  • natural environment
  • energy 
  • constitution

New protections promised for Scottish seas

We are pleased that the deal included firm commitments on completing protections for Scotland’s existing Marine Protected Area network and, in line with our Ocean Recovery Plan, identifying new sites to meet EU targets for at least 10% of Scotland’s seas to be strictly protected (no extractive or damaging activities) four years ahead of target in 2026.

Deposit return scheme must not be delayed

However, we are concerned the text did not mention the already delayed deposit return scheme that so many of you helped us campaign for.

Scotland is the first nation in the UK to commit to a deposit return scheme. Initially announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2017, it was due to start this year, but has already been delayed to next July.

Our seas cannot wait any longer. Scotland’s deposit system must start next year to increase recycling rates and to reduce the amount of bottles and cans washing up on Scotland’s shores.


How will the deposit return scheme work?

The scheme will include PET plastic bottles, glass bottles and steel/aluminium drinks cans. Consumers will pay a 20p deposit on top of the price of a drink, which is then refunded when the bottle or can is returned for recycling.

The Scottish Government aims to have a 90% return rate within the first three years, which is a big step towards Scotland having a circular economy

Calum Duncan, Head of Conservation Scotland at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “Our volunteers pick up thousands of bottles and cans across Scotland's beaches every year. Whether glass, plastic or metal, drinks litter negatively impacts wildlife, business and everyone’s enjoyment of our stunning coastline, so we’re delighted to be on the final countdown to the solution to this problem.

"Scotland is leading the way in the UK by starting a deposit return system next year. We expect to see a drastic drop in the amount of bottles and cans we’re finding on Scottish beaches as more people return their drinks containers to be recycled and claim the 20p deposit back.

We hope England, Wales and Northern Ireland follow suit, making strides to stop the flow of pollution into our seas."

Scotland is leading the way in the UK by starting a deposit return system next year.

Calum Duncan, Head of Conservation Scotland, Marine Conservation Society

Let's keep UK seas litter-free

It's not just Scottish seas that are being choked by litter. We're calling for URGENT action to bring in deposit return schemes throughout the rest of the UK.

We need your help to ask Boris Johnson to get a grip on our waste crisis and stop bottles and cans ending up on our beaches and in the ocean in England. 

  • It is estimated that 8 billion drink bottles and cans were sent to landfill, incinerated or lost on land or sea in 2019.
  • As our supporters have collected rubbish and surveyed their findings — over the last 5 years an average of 45 drinks containers were found on each 100 metres of beach they cleaned around the UK.
  • A deposit return scheme would help to ensure that at least 90% of bottles and cans are collected, reused or recycled. 
  • But it needs to be comprehensive, simple and consistent to work – it must include plastic, aluminium and glass, and cover all container sizes. 

If you live in England please tweet your MP and Boris Johnson asking them to take action and if you live in Wales watch this space