The Scottish government has outlined plans covering a new deposit return scheme (DRS) for plastic, aluminium and glass drinks containers.
Underpinning the scheme will be a “return to retail” model, said environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham.
In practise, the DRS will add 20p to the retail value of the drink product. That 20p will be refunded upon return of the container.
The increased price will be applied to all containers above 50ml, up to three litres.
With regards to plastics, PET bottles will be included in the scheme, while HDPE, most commonly used for production of milk bottles, will not be included.
Businesses selling drinks which are intended for consumption on site, such as pubs, will not have to charge the deposit fee.
All outlets will be required to join the scheme, regardless of size. The DRS will cover the whole of Scotland. Schools, hospitals and other similar institutions will also offer return facilities.
The 20p deposit can be reclaimed via over-the-counter returns, or using a reverse vending machine. Payments will be offered in cash, digitally, or as a discount voucher.
The Scottish government is planning to introduce related legislation covering the DRS later this year. Once this is passed, it will likely require a 12-month implementation period before the scheme is up and running.
Scotland will be the first nation in the UK to introduce a DRS. Consultations covering a similar scheme are currently underway in England, with Wales also taking part in those proceedings. Northern Ireland is also said to be considering a DRS.
According to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 13 billion plastic bottles are sold each year in the UK. Of these, 7.5bn are recycled.
Figures further show that each day, 15m bottles are sent to landfill, incinerated, or become litter. In 2015-’16, an estimated £778m was spent cleaning up plastic waste.