More than 30,000 plastic bottles could disappear from Scotland’s streets and green spaces every day under the planned deposit return scheme, a report has revealed.

Estimated figures from Zero Waste Scotland show the dramatic scale of potential litter reduction under the scheme, which will see consumers pay a 20p deposit on single-use cans and bottles, with the money being refunded when containers are returned.

With the 20p incentive not to throw away empties, Zero Waste Scotland believes there could be a 90 per cent reduction in litter from containers included in the scheme.

This would result in almost 31,000 fewer plastic bottles dropped in Scotland each day – more than 11 million in a year.

Jill Farrell, chief operating officer for Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Scotland’s deposit return scheme is going to make people think twice about dropping their empty bottles.

“Our new figures reveal just how big a difference that will make in reducing litter all across Scotland.

“From our beaches to the parks in our cities, there will be fewer bottles and cans spoiling our beautiful country.

“Scotland’s deposit return scheme will give people a 20l incentive to do the right thing with their empty bottles and cans – take them back for recycling, rather than risk them ending up on our streets or in our rivers.

READ MORE: Scottish deposit return scheme: Cans and bottles to carry 20p deposit to save waste 

“Litter isn’t just an eyesore – It also pollutes out environment and seas. And for every bottle littered, more plastic had to be created, generating more planet-damaging emissions.

“When you take back your empty bottles to be recycled, you’ll not just be getting your 20p back – you’ll be doing your bit in the fight against the climate emergency.”

According to UK parliament figures, people in Scotland go through a staggering 694 million plastic bottles every year, and almost 12.5 million of these are littered.

Zero Waste Scotland’s figures for the potential reduction in bottles being dropped in Scotland is based on the Scottish Government’s target of a 90 per cent capture rate under the scheme.

While it is accepted that reaching this target is dependent on Scots widely participating in the scheme, the figures have been welcomed by environmental groups who claim it will make a massive difference.

Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “This analysis shows the huge benefit that the new deposit return scheme will bring.

“The number of bottles and cans that are carelessly chucked away every year is mind-boggling and the new scheme will reduce waste, clean up the countryside and reduce climate emissions.

“The deposit return scheme is going to make a huge difference and it can’t come soon enough.”

Scotland is the first nation in the UK to commit to a return scheme following a consultation on the design of the scheme last year.

The Scottish Government intends to introduce legislation later this year. Once the regulations are passed by the Scottish Parliament, there will be an implementation period of at least 12 months before the scheme is established.
Environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful said it is vital that the scheme is implemented well.

READ MORE: 72% would welcome UK-wide deposit return system for drink containers 

Derek Robertson, chief executive of the charity, said: “All our evidence shows clearly that litter levels have been increasing and are at the highest levels for a decade.

“We welcome the part that a deposit return system can play in reducing the plague of plastic bottles and cans littering our streets and open spaces.

“The system implemented needs to ensure that it maximises its impact on litter and makes us all live more sustainably – we need to reduce bottle and can use as well as recycle those we must use more effectively.

“However, the implementation decisions will be crucial – we must get the detail right.”

According to the figures, the introduction of the scheme could result in 3500 fewer plastic bottles being littered each day in Glasgow and 1000 fewer in Eilean Siar.

Zero Waste Scotland also claims that with plastic bottles accounting for just one of the materials included in the scheme, the overall impact on litter is expected to be even greater.