Following on from the announcement by the Scottish Government of the principles of the deposit return system, we are concerned about the deposit of 20p that is proposed for all sizes of container and format. This is double the level typically used in the Scandinavian DRS programmes. This high level of deposit across all sizes of containers will lead to unintended consequences, specifically on the sales of multi-pack cans, the perceived price of which would rise significantly. The proposed 20p deposit would increase the cost of 24 cans in a multipack by £4.80 whilst the same volume of drink sold in four 2-litre plastic bottles would increase by 80p.
In the UK nearly 80% of drinks cans are sold in multi-pack format; in Scandinavia a majority of cans are sold individually.
Research conducted in Scotland on our behalf [Icaro, June 2018] showed that almost all (97%) of alcoholic cans from a multi-pack were drunk in the home and 72% placed in household recycling. However, 23% of shoppers indicated that they would switch to larger plastic bottles, if a 10p deposit were placed on all containers; the impact of the proposed 20p deposit is likely to be even more significant. This would perversely result in more plastic bottles being sold, and a decline in the number of infinitely recyclable aluminium cans sold.
We have raised our concerns directly with the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland.
In order to avoid distorting the market, we believe the deposit should vary according to the size of the container, as it does in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. This would then help to level the playing field across multi-pack cans and large format plastic bottles. We also advocate no cross-subsidy of materials; and that the high value and infinite recyclability of aluminium is recognised in the product fee.