World Environment Day

10 June 2019

Scotland’s deposit return scheme will slash 160,000 tonnes from Scotland’s carbon footprint each year, a valuable contribution to the fight against the climate emergency.

The figure, which is the equivalent of taking 85,000 cars off the road, has been highlighted by Zero Waste Scotland to mark World Environment Day (Wednesday 5 June), the UN’s annual day to encourage awareness and action to protect our environment.

Under Scotland’s deposit return scheme, consumers will pay a 20p deposit when they buy a drink in a single-use container. They get that back when they return the empty bottle or can to be recycled.

Similar schemes in places such as Germany, Denmark and Lithuania have already delivered recycling rates of 90% or more.

By capturing 90% of most types of single-use bottles and cans for recycling*, Scotland’s scheme will reduce emissions by four million tonnes over the first twenty-five years of the scheme.

That’s an average of around 160,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year, the equivalent of over 110,000 return flights from Edinburgh to New York.

Iain Gulland, CEO of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Single-use items like bottles and cans are a real menace to our environment and Scotland’s deposit return scheme will be a great way of reducing that damage.

“Scotland’s scheme will collect a staggering 1.5 billion bottles and cans for recycling each year. That will cut the number of containers going to landfill and curb the need for new material, helping to take a dent out of the harmful emissions that are causing the climate emergency.

“From Blue Planet to school children on strike, people in Scotland have been inspired to take action to protect their environment and this will make doing that easier than ever. You'll be able to return your empties to wherever you bought them from, making cutting your carbon footprint as easy as doing your weekly shop.”

Roseanna Cunningham, environment secretary, said: “There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling, rightly, for more ambition in our efforts to safeguard our planet for future generations.

“For the price of 20p per item, our ambitious deposit return scheme will recycle 1.5 billion single use drink items each year, removing the equivalent of 85,000 cars from our roads. This will make a huge difference in our efforts to tackle waste, improve recycling rates, and remove litter from our streets.”

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