Organisations from around Europe have written to Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater to show support for the Deposit Return Scheme.

The scheme will help to recycle billions of bottles and cans every year, and will be the first of its kind in the UK.

Ms Slater announced to the Scottish Parliament that the scheme will be launching on August 16, after previously being delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Several organisations said the new legislation has inspired new systems – in Turkey, Romania and Greece in 2023; Ireland and Hungary in 2024; and Austria in 2025.

Miquel Roset, executive director of Retorna, said: “In Spain and Portugal, we now have deposit return legislation in place. However, in Portugal it has been delayed since 2020, and there is still no firm date for it to go live. In Spain, the implementation depends on certain conditions, with more clarity still needed on how these will be measured.

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“We have looked at Scotland’s world-leading example since details were announced in 2017, and are acutely aware of how your progress in this policy area can influence developments here.

“As we wait to see who will serve as Scotland’s next First Minister, we offer our support and solidarity to your commitment to bring about positive change for Scotland’s people and environment.”

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A similar system was previously launched in Slovakia in January 2022, which has seen great success.

Miloš Veverka, president of CEPTA – a Slovakian organisation which brings together people with a need to take action to protect the environment, nature and promote civic participation – said: “Our system, which launched in January 2022, has seen excellent results. The return rate is already 10% over the 60% first year target. The public have embraced deposit return, and have recycled around 820 million cans and bottles since our system launched.”

Zero Waste Scotland will continue to support the scheme and is working closely with the Scottish Government, Circularity Scotland and Orkney Islands Council on a phased implementation of the scheme on the Orkney Islands, which will start this year.

Dr Kat Jones, director of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, added: “When the First Minister announced in 2017 that Scotland would have deposit return, many other campaigners across Europe were pushing their own governments hard to follow suit.

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“The litter crisis we see every day in Scotland is not a uniquely Scottish problem – the same story plays out on the streets and in the countryside of every country without deposit return.

“So, while we were inspired by their campaigns, the leadership shown by the Scottish Government has already helped build the case for other systems to be launched or updated, including in the Netherlands, Spain and Slovakia. The message from across Europe is the same: time to get it done.”