ALMOST four out of five Scots back the introduction of a deposit refund system for drinks in bottles and cans, a survey has found.

The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) said Scottish ministers are now "looking positively" at such a scheme in a bid to increase recycling rates.

The Scottish Government already has the power to introduce such an initiative under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act of 2009 and APRS has now published polling showing 78.8 per cent are in favour of this.

While shoppers would have to pay a deposit when buying drinks in cans and bottles, this would be refunded to them when they returned their empty containers.

Results from pilot "reverse vending machines", in which people put bottles and cans to obtain a refund, run by Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh have been encouraging, according to APRS, while similar schemes are up and running in Denmark, Canada and Germany.

The research by Survation showed that 41.1 per cent of people are strongly in favour of such a scheme, with a further 37.7 per cent giving it "somewhat support".

Only 3.3 per cent strongly oppose it, with a further 5.2 per cent being somewhat against the move, leaving 12.7 per cent who are neither for or against it.

APRS director John Mayhew said: "These results are a robust mandate for ministers to do the right thing and bring in a deposit refund system for Scotland.

"We know it works in other countries, tackling litter, reducing waste, boosting recycling and supporting good new jobs in the circular economy.

"We also know that the current approach means cans and bottles end up as landfill and litter, wasting resources, spoiling our environment on land and at sea, and forcing up costs to councils across Scotland.

"As with the carrier-bag charge, some in big business will complain about it in advance, even though it's roughly cost-neutral, and as with the carrier-bag charge the evidence from elsewhere is that a deposit refund system will just work for Scotland."

WWF Scotland director, Lang Banks said: "Deposit and return systems which encourage refilling and recycling have been shown to work successfully elsewhere, so it's very encouraging to see the vast majority of Scots would welcome their introduction here.

"We currently live very wasteful lifestyles which in turn damages nature and our climate. And, if everyone in the world used the amount of resources we do, we would need three planets to survive.

"Therefore, reducing the amount of waste we produce coupled with achieving much higher levels of recycling is essential if Scotland is reduce its environmental and carbon footprints."