Scottish Waste Deposit Scheme: Please Dont Bottle It
For some time now the Scottish Government has been exploring the possibility of starting a waste deposit scheme in Scotland. The idea is that people pay a small fee when they purchase certain products and get that money back when they return the waste. What is returned is either reused or recycled.
Similar schemes are in place in many other countries including Canada, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. Over 100 million people in Europe live in countries that have adopted such schemes. All of these countries send less to landfill than Scotland and all them have fewer problems with littering.
The reason that these countries are cleaner is due to the fact that, when waste becomes worth something, people are more likely to return it. Also, anything that is thrown away tends to get picked up by anyone looking to make a bit of easy money. Most deposit schemes cause a return of between 80 and 96 percent of the waste. The deposits for waste that isn’t returned are used to fund the scheme making it quite a cost effective waste management solution.
It has been revealed this week that behind the scenes at Holyrood the drinks and packaging industry has been lobbying heavily for the idea to be quietly dropped. Those companies offer many convoluted arguments to back up their case but most of them look silly when so many other countries are running deposit schemes effectively.
The true reason the companies are against the idea is that they don’t want to risk losing money.
The packaging industry doesn’t want a world with less packaging. The drinks industry doesn’t want to have the cost of recycling containers when they can just use a new container each time. They don’t care how wasteful existing practice is or how dirty our streets and countryside look.
The Scottish Government should think long and hard before giving in to these powerful lobbyists. Not just for the obvious reason that deposit schemes are a proven good idea which are successfully run with public support in some of the most progressive countries in the world.
They should also be wary of capitulation because this type of scheme is exactly the kind of thing that could set Scotland apart and make us look more capable of running our own affairs.
Having a cleaner, more ecological country builds pride and a sense of community. It has been shown that decreasing litter actually improves wellbeing and mental health as well as reducing crime rates. Standing up to the corporate machine instils in people the sense that maybe Scotland could do things better if we went it alone.
We have long argued that in order to become independent Scotland needs to behave like the country it wants to become. In areas such as education, health and child protection Scotland has shown a willingness to try more radical policies than the rest of the UK. With regards to deposits for waste packaging we have another opportunity to do things better.
We have a real opportunity now to change our environment and in turn how people feel about living here. Let’s not ruin the chance by being bullied by those with a vested interest to keep Scotland dirty and wasteful.