Increasingly, the Scottish government is trying to develop its own approach to a range of issues. One such ‘Scottish solution’ being considered is to introduce a deposit return scheme to improve recycling rates and reduce litter in Scotland.
Essentially, a deposit charge will be added to the price of drinks and other containers, and customers will be encouraged to return the containers to a retail outlet and claim their deposit. This ignores the fact most shops will simply not have the space to store returned containers, and how staff will cope with the return rates – potentially thousands a week – has not been considered.
Reverse vending systems are available, but are expensive to buy and install and again would take up valuable space. Most independents simply do not have access to the ‘backhauling’ services which could alleviate the problem and even if they did this would simply move contaminated containers further up the supply chain.
The person who will make the decision on this is the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Richard Lochhead MSP. We recently had a constructive meeting with him at which he agreed to instruct officials to develop modelling on the impact of deposit return and undertake a series of store visits to see first-hand the problems deposit return would cause.
With the SNP on course to win another majority in the Scottish Parliament in May this process of ‘policy divergence’ will undoubtedly continue. It’s more important than ever for manufacturers and suppliers to engage with SGF to influence the political agenda north of the border.