A Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Resource Association

The Resource Association acknowledges the clear commitment and intent of the Scottish Government to implement a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and the extensive research and consultation undertaken in the process, together with your delivery partners Zero Waste Scotland.
We recognise that well-managed DRS can have a positive effect on improving the consistency and quality of recyclate derived from those collection systems.  However, there remain mixed and conflicting viewpoints and evidence about the effect of DRS on the economics and viability of kerbside recycling schemes ran by local authorities, and questions around the cost of DRS relative to the added value of the quality recyclate derived.  
We also note the significance of the residential behavioural change aspect of the national social change experiment that implementation of a DRS could be viewed as.  The issue of how the public respond to a two-tier dry recycling collection system is untested, and no nation has retrofitted a DRS onto an existing mature kerbside recycling system.  To date, all the research and debate has been around the quantitative aspect of the changing flow of tonnages and money. There has been no substantive debate or indeed research carried out as to how householders will respond to having an in-home and in-store (assumed point of DRS) recycling service.  The impacts could be positive with the DRS drawing in more capture of other materials, but this remains an unknown and close monitoring through an active research programme should be considered. 
We believe that, if any DRS are to be implemented in the UK nations, that this would be more effective and indeed essential that any scheme be a UK-wide compatible scheme.  If Scotland is to press on and implement a DRS ahead of full consideration by the other UK nations, we trust that the Scottish Government will be mindful of the need for consistency and that the other UK nations will respond in good faith.
Any DRS also need to be fully integrated into the development and implementation of future EPR for packaging across the UK nations.  While EPR schemes remain under active development and future consultation and are not yet fully clear to stakeholders, we urge the Scottish Government to exercise some patience with their implementation timetable for DRS to ensure there is strong compatibility and efficiency in all these future developments and that they do not emerge in a piecemeal fashion.