Coca-Cola Backs Scottish Deposit Return Scheme

Connector Spring 2017

In what will be widely seen as a massive U-turn, the soft-drinks giant Coca-Cola has thrown its support behind calls for the Scottish Government to introduce a deposit return scheme, in an effort to reduce littering and boost recycling.

Deposit return schemes (DRS), in which consumers pay a small sum which is paid back when they return a bottle or can, operate in several European countries.

Environmental groups have urged the Scottish Government to introduce a DRS, forming an alliance through the ‘Have You Got the Bottle’ campaign and arguing the scheme would increase recycling, combat climate change, cut costs for local authorities and boost employment.

Coca-Cola has strongly opposed the idea in the past, telling a 2015 Zero Waste Scotland consultation that “DRS doesn’t encourage packaging reduction or recyclability” and that it was “legally questionable” whether a DRS could be introduced in Scotland without changes to UK legislation first, with the drinks manufacturer instead arguing for local authority kerbside collections.

But the company has now come out in support of a DRS, with a spokesperson saying “it’s already clear from our conversations with experts that the time is right to trial new interventions such as a well-designed deposit scheme for drinks containers, starting in Scotland where conversations are underway”.

Zero Waste Scotland carried out a study of DRS in 2015, with the Scottish Government currently considering introducing the scheme.

Coca-Cola said 63% of consumers support the introduction of a deposits system in the UK, and 51% say they would be more likely to recycle as a result.

The spokesperson said: “From our experience elsewhere in Europe, we know that deposit schemes can work if they are developed as part of an overall strategy on the circular economy, in collaboration with all industry stakeholders. We will support any well-thought-through initiative that has the potential to increase recycling and reduce litter.”

Source: Holyrood Magazine