The Scottish Deposit and Return Scheme Faces Further Delay and will Proceed Without Glass: Circular Communities Scotland Calls on the Scottish Government to Hold to its Circular Economy Ambitions. 

Circular Communities Scotland supports the implementation of the long-awaited Scottish Deposit Return Scheme. However we are disappointed that the latest announcement from the Scottish Government indicates that the implementation date is now October 2025 at the earliest and that glass will be required to be removed from the scheme. 

Removing glass from the scheme is a missed opportunity and only serves to emphasise the urgent need for Scotland to accelerate its transition towards a circular economy. It is imperative that Scotland moves faster and with more ambition towards a circular economy.  

Evidence from existing deposit and return schemes (45 out of 51 international schemes have glass included) consistently demonstrates significant increases in recycling rates, reduced littering, improved resource efficiency, job creation, and heightened public awareness of recycling practices. 

A strong Scottish Deposit and Return Scheme is just one element of a larger circular economy policy landscape. Scotland should be expanding its focus beyond conventional waste and recycling services and actively supporting and investing in services and activities that promote reuse, repair, and resource-sharing behaviours. 

Only by focussing on behaviours and activities at the top of the waste hierarchy can Scotland unlock the full potential of a truly circular economy that encourages responsible consumption and sustainable production. 

Michael Cook, CEO of Circular Communities Scotland said: 

“We were one of the founding members of Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland’s “Have You Got The Bottle” Campaign so we are disappointed the scheme is being further delayed until 2025.

The likely removal of glass is also a weakening of the scheme and is a missed opportunity to deliver a multi-material scheme that has proven to work in other countries and one that could have delivered real circular benefits for Scotland. Glass should be added to the scheme once it is up and running as soon as possible.

To combat the climate emergency that we all face, we all need to go at the speed of the fastest not the slowest. We call on all policy makers to be more ambitious and fully embrace circular principles. Scotland can still pave the way towards a sustainable future where circularity is at the core of decision-making and policy processes. Let’s do this!” 

Alongside our Policy Statement, Circular Communities Scotland is pleased to share our CEO Michael Cook’s Agenda Piece for the Scottish Herald, calling for Policy Makers to Put Their Differences Aside for the Sake of the Climate.

Read the Agenda Article in full by clicking here or reading on below.

“Our effort to tackle climate change should be a great unifier. Instead, progressive climate policy is being stifled by constitutional conflicts and political differences.

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme has been delayed until October 2025, announced by Minister Lorna Slater in Parliament earlier this week.

After a long and frustrating process, we’re in a disappointing situation, where conflicting business interests, implementation issues, constitutional questions and political differences have undermined a scheme that had the potential to deliver significant environmental and carbon benefits.

This needn’t have been the case. Deposit Return Schemes work well in more than 45 countries worldwide, providing substantial positive impacts on recycling levels. Meanwhile, Scotland’s recycling rates are lagging behind, with our overall recycling rate falling from 60.7% in 2018 to 56.3% in 2021.

Originally, Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme was designed by Scottish Government to be one of the most ambitious and best-performing in the world, aiming to collect 90% of specified cans and bottles for recycling. If successful, it was set to cut emissions by the equivalent of around 4 million tonnes of CO2 over 25 years. That’s approximately 16,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

For Scotland to make significant inroads into our climate targets, policies like the Deposit Return Scheme must find a way to fruition.

Scotland’s Circular Economy Bill is set to return to the Scottish Parliament in the coming weeks. This Bill looks beyond recycling, aiming to transform our “take, make and dispose” economic model to one where materials are kept in use for as long as possible.

Scotland urgently needs a bold and ambitious circular economy.

By moving away from goods that are designed to be disposable, we can take less from the earth, protect our natural environment and reduce our carbon footprint.

The cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country, who are being forced to choose between necessities like food and electricity to survive. The circular economy offers cheaper alternatives to buying new, local employment opportunities and community support from local charities and social enterprises that practise circularity through reuse, repair and recycling.

Circular Communities Scotland has asked that the Circular Economy Bill increases options for reuse, including a national reuse target. Like the Deposit Return Scheme, this would help reduce our carbon footprint and contribute towards Scotland’s goal to be Net Zero by 2045.

It is imperative that we move beyond the current divided response to the climate emergency. Our policymakers need to work faster, more boldly and most importantly, together.

On behalf of Circular Communities Scotland, I’d like to call on all policymakers to support meaningful and impactful circular economy actions. Together, we can achieve the objectives set out in our climate targets, and transition away from our outdated, unsustainable linear economy.

I believe we all want a safe, sustainable future for our planet. We also want to reap the rewards of a fair, thoughtful economic system that benefits the many, not the few, in our lifetimes.

To live in this future, we must build it now.

Michael Cook is CEO  of Circular Communities Scotland”