Login/Register ZWS
Main content

Ambitious deposit return scheme will help us get out of the hothouse

When Michael Gove gave his latest big climate speech from a greenhouse, Twitter users were quick to comment on how apt the location was. 

With global temperatures rising, we’ll all be in the hothouse if we don’t get a grip on emissions.

It was a wide-ranging speech, but at Zero Waste Scotland we were paying particular attention for news from the UK Environment Secretary on his plans for a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans. In the end, he stopped short of an official announcement. But two hints – on the size of containers to be included, and his personal view on the range of materials which could be included – gave an indication of the direction of travel.

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Roseanna Cunningham, has been clear that she wants an ambitious scheme that includes a wide range of materials. Scotland’s deposit return scheme will see people pay a 20p deposit when they buy a drink in a glass or PET plastic bottle or in a can. They will get their money back when they take the empty container back to be recycled. That 20p gives people an extra incentive to do the right thing with their empties. It’s expected to increase recycling for these materials to 90% and cut emissions by 160,000 tonnes a year, so it’s little surprise to see other UK nations expressing a desire to do something similar.

Michael Gove indicated that the UK Government will reject calls for an ‘on-the-go’ scheme focusing on smaller containers, and instead green light a more comprehensive scheme. In Scotland, we’ve included bottles up to three litres, meaning the power of that 20p incentive will be felt much more widely. The Environment Secretary gave a strong indication that he is minded to do likewise.

On materials, Michael Gove suggested, in a response to further questioning, that he would personally like the UK Government to include the key materials that have been announced as part of Scotland’s scheme – PET plastic, metal cans and glass bottles. The inclusion of glass in Scotland’s scheme will ensure maximum benefits in terms of carbon saving and litter reductions, as well as convenience for consumers.  

We’re proud that Scotland is leading the way on this in the UK. We might have to wait a bit longer yet for the official details of DEFRA’s plans for England. But what is clear is that, against the backdrop of a climate emergency and the need to transition to a circular economy, the case for ambitious deposit return schemes on both sides of the border is undeniable.

For the latest news on Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme, visit depositreturn.scot

Close Search

Search form