A deposit return system for drinks containers is to be introduced in Scotland with the aim of reducing pollution in the sea and on land

A new scheme to help cut down on the pollution caused by plastic and glass bottles and drinks cans is to be set up in Scotland.

Although details of the new deposit return system are yet to be drawn up, it is thought that customers would pay a surcharge when buying bottles or cans, which would then be refunded when the empty containers were returned to the shop.

Environmental groups are welcoming the move announced by the Scottish Government.

Zero Waste Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund, will be designing the new scheme.

The measure is aimed at increasing recycling and tackling litter, and was announced alongside the establishment of an expert panel to consider other measures to reduce pollution.

Plastic bottles littering the sea bed

Plastic pollution blights the world’s oceans

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which is a founding partner of the Have You Got The Bottle campaign for the introduction of  deposit return system in Scotland, said it hoped other parts of the UK would consider introducing a similar scheme.

“We see this as the simplest next step to help turn the tide on plastic, glass and metal drinks containers on our beaches. We hope that this will inspire similar systems throughout the UK,” said the MSC’s Scotland conservation officer, Catherine Gemmell.

“For almost three decades our dedicated volunteers have taken part in our Beachwatch surveys, gathering evidence of the impact of ocean plastics and litter of all materials on the seas and coasts around Scotland and throughout the UK,” she stated.

Gemmell said there was clear evidence that pollution from drinks containers was measurably reduced on beaches where deposit return systems were in place.

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Scotland’s deposit return system for bottles and cans is also being welcomed by retailers, brewers, and the hospitality trade.

“Just as the carrier bag charge was a success from the start, we are confident that a deposit return system will work for the public, for business, and for local government,” said Scott Williams of Williams Bros Brewing Co. in Alloa, Firth of Forth.

“Ministers take pride in the carrier bag charge decision to this day, just as they should be proud of (this) announcement, and a Scottish deposit system will set the agenda for England, Wales and Northern Ireland too,” added Williams, who backs the Have You Got The Bottle campaign.

Details of the new deposit return system are expected to be announced in early 2018.