Westminster in rethink on bottle deposit scheme
SCOTTISH ministers came under fresh pressure to introduce a bottle deposit scheme yesterday after the UK Government revealed it is to reconsider a similar proposal.
Tory Environment Minister Therese Coffey has hinted the scheme could form part of efforts to curb the number of dumped plastic bottles.
This is despite the UK Government previously stating it was not considering introducing the initiative.
Proposals for a deposit-return scheme (DRS) would see customers pay up to 10p extra on all drinks containers, which would be refunded if they take their empties back to collection points in shops and public places.
The Scottish Government has been under growing pressure since the Scottish Daily Mail launched a campaign last month backing the proposal. This newspaper believes a DRS would help to tackle the blight caused by 130,000 plastic bottles and cans dumped on streets, beaches and public places every day.
The proposals have gained cross-party support at Holyrood, with a motion calling for a ‘prompt decision’.
The Westminster Government is drawing up a new litter strategy for England, which is likely to include higher fines.
A first draft, which was leaked a few weeks ago, contained no mention at all of a DRS. Miss Coffey’s apparent willingness to consider the idea emerged as she answered questions in the Commons yesterday.
Tory MP Steve Double cited a petition by Surfers Against Sewage which calls for a DRS and has collected around 209,000 signatures.
He asked Miss Coffey: ‘Would the minister meet with me to discuss how we can advance this petition and make progress on this issue?’
She replied: ‘I would be happy to meet with you to discuss this matter. We are looking at this issue in terms of the litter strategy.’
Labour MP Kerry McCarthy also urged ministers to back a DRS for plastic bottles. She said: ‘Larger plastics that break down and become microplastics within the marine environment are really the big issue.
‘A deposit return scheme (on plastic bottles) would make a really big difference.’
Tory Philip Hollobone (Kettering) urged ministers to broaden a proposed ban on plastic microbeads to include their use in cosmetics and suncream as well as ‘rinse-off’ items such as shower gel and toothpaste.
Miss Coffey said: ‘I’m sure you will welcome the fact that many manufacturers are proactively removing microbeads from their products. As I said, we will look at the responses to the consultation carefully and use them to inform any future policy.’
Commenting on calls for a DRS, a Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Such a scheme has the potential to reduce litter and improve recycling, but it is important that all interested parties and stakeholders have the opportunity to express their view on such a significant issue.’