West­min­ster in re­think on bot­tle de­posit scheme

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Rachel Wat­son Deputy Scot­tish Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

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.’

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