Angus and Fife litter pickers say the latest setback for Scotland’s deposit return scheme is ‘demoralising’.
Volunteers expressed their frustration at the latest delay to the flagship recycling policy. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon first announced it in September 2017.
“I think I speak on behalf of all those involved in trying to change behaviours and reduce the amount of plastic in the environment that this news is massively disappointing,” said Wendy Murray.
Wendy leads East Haven Together – a local group working hard to tackle litter and make improvements to the area.
The deposit return scheme aims to encourage people to recycle more bottles and cans. This includes drinks sold in plastic, metal and glass containers.
It sees shoppers pay an additional charge. Businesses then refund the fee when shoppers return their waste for recycling.
Scottish government has delayed Deposit Return Scheme again. This is unacceptable. The public shouldn’t let the Cambo announcement yesterday, significant as it was, hide the fact that @Scotgov is delaying urgently needed environmental action once again.
— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) November 17, 2021
The government scrapped the scheme’s previous launch date of April this year amid the pandemic.
At the time it said the scheme would go live in July next year.
Scottish Government have now said they are “committed to the scheme being operational as soon as is practicably possible”.
In other words, there is no revised launch date.
A spokesperson said the government was working with scheme operator Circularity Scotland and industry to finalise “clear milestones for delivery”.
The government said it would reveal more “in due course”.
Wendy said the delay was bad news for the Angus coastline.
“The amount of plastic picked up by volunteers across Angus is at an all time high.
“We all know the damage it is causing to wildlife and the marine environment.
“It is critical that the government acts quickly to put plans and dates in place for its implementation.”
Deposit return scheme delay ‘frustrating’
“It was a huge blow when Covid 19 delayed the implementation in April this year.
“But to find that it has been delayed again is demoralising and frustrating.”
The Scottish Government’s circular economy minister Lorna Slater blamed Brexit and Covid-19 for the hold-up.
She said those instrumental in implementing the scheme included the hospitality sector, local convenience stores and small brewers.
Speaking in parliament, the minister said “the pandemic and the mismanagement of Brexit” had “badly affected” these businesses.
Target the big players to improve recycling
Grant Adams from St Vigeans Conservation Network in Arbroath said a deposit return scheme “isn’t a new idea”.
“We did that in the 60s, 70s and 80s. We took our glass bottles back to the shops and got a deposit back for them.”
He said the scheme would “greatly help the litter problem”.
Meanwhile, he said small operators should not carry the burden.
“It should be down to the big players and then filtered down. The likes of your Tescos, Asdas and Morrisons.
“It should be them that lead the way and filter down to the smaller businesses.”
The delay came just days after the conclusion of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
Fife campaigner against plastic pollution James Daw said: “Coming right after COP26, this decision to delay the deposit return scheme again calls into question how seriously the Scottish Government takes the climate emergency.
“The Scottish Government should not be delaying this project at time where Scotland, and the planet as a whole, can ill afford it to.”