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There’s a better way to recycle in Scotland’s Circular Economy

The Packaging Recycling Group Scotland (PRGS) is an unprecedented partnership of 34 of Scotland’s leading retailers, brand owners, packaging converters, set up to work positively and collaboratively with the Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland, local authorities and others to increase recycling and reduce litter.

We support the Government’s vision to establish Scotland as a progressive nation on environmental issues. Plans to move towards a Circular Economy will help to achieve ambitious recycling targets and will see benefits for everyone along the consumer chain.

We believe we have the expertise, the reach and the passion within our partnership to help make a real difference. Our Packaging Resource Commitment offers Scotland an opportunity to lead the way in increasing recycling and reducing litter, through education and partnership working.

Trials in improvements to kerbside collections have generated some encouraging results. Dundee and Edinburgh approximately doubled recycle rates in pilot areas by making changes to bin collections. These unobtrusive, intelligent changes to the way we recycle are proving to be the most effective way to increase rates, although we’re proposing more than just ‘more of the same’. We want to support these systems to significantly boost recycling rates for years to come.

PRGS Better Way infographic final

However, the Government is considering introducing a Deposit Return System (DRS) on drinks packaging. Deposit Return Systems do not work in countries, like Scotland, that already have an extensive recycling infrastructure. A DRS would cost consumers, local authorities and Scottish businesses. Local Authorities would lose £8.7 million a year because drinks containers would be diverted from the kerbside collection. 

It would have a negative effect on the environment because it would increase carbon emissions    from the vehicles that would have to collect bottles from retailers and from householders who would likely drive to the supermarket to get their deposits back. This would be at least 10,000 extra tonnes of CO2 each year, enough to power a small Scottish town. 

There is no evidence from any country that Deposit Return Systems reduce littering. We want to help increase awareness of littering, and reduce littering of all materials. The solution to litter is to change behaviour so that people take a pride in their environment and put all their rubbish in the bin.

With resources becoming increasingly more valuable, Scotland is moving towards a circular economy. However, an effective circular economy would be encumbered by a DRS, which would act as a useless appendage on the side of it.

The Packaging Recycling Group Scotland wants the government to accept its offer to improve Scotland’s kerbside recycling systems and help influence behaviour change towards littering, instead of introducing an unworkable DRS. 

 PRGS FINAL

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