Time to reject the Tory scaremongering over Deposit Return Scheme
First the Tories backed a delay to Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme, then they wanted it sped up, now today they are calling for it to be stopped.
What a reckless message this sends out to the hundreds of business who have quietly invested millions in the scheme.
Reverse Vending Machines are being ordered, product packaging is being re-configured, staff training programmes rolled out, new jobs are being created.
But this Tory flip flopping and scaremongering on DRS doesn’t just stop there. Because over recess the dream team of Fergus Ewing and Maurice Golden hatched a letter claiming DRS would actually be bad for the environment.
How will it be bad for the environment when it has been shown that the scheme will reduce carbon emissions by 4 million tonnes over 25 years.
How will it be bad for the environment when it will reduce litter by a third?
But so much can change in a week in politics and on the Tories have flipped again now claiming DRS will actually be good for the environment, but just not yet. Not this scheme. Now is not the time.
We have heard it all before.
We are being told to wait for the UK Government to make a decision on an English scheme which won’t include glass, despite glass having the biggest carbon impact and causing injuries to people, pets and wildlife as litter.
The English scheme is being kicked down the road to October 2025 at the earliest, DEFRA has even publicly undermined that launch date, effectively handing big business the veto on any progress.
Right now it’s the big business polluters who aren’t paying, the Scottish DRS ensures that they will pay rather than consumers.
In fact industry is making consumers pay twice. Once at the shop for the drink and then again through tax to pay for councils to collect bottles and cans, while the cost of littering again falls onto the taxpayer.
DRS will cut costs for councils. All councils will benefit from reduced collection costs.
I recently visited a plastic film recycling enterprise in Fife which if scaled up could take most of Scotland’s film, but right now council kerbside collections are full to the brim with plastic bottles and cans much of which cannot be easily recycled back to food grade material.
DRS will create space in our bins for councils to innovate and expand the range and volume of materials recycled, increasing recycling rates.
Any scheme as ambitious as Scotland’s DRS will have issues to iron out at the beginning, but the concerns of small independent retailers and producers are being addressed. The announcement by Circularity Scotland on Tuesday addresses the cashflow issues and provides a simple labelling solution for those producing less than 25,000 units a year.
Registration fees have been waved for those with less than £85k turnover, producer fees have been reduced by 40% and handling fees payable to retailers have been increased to help them adapt to the scheme.
Other tweaks to online takeback requirements and the exemption of glass returns for some food handling businesses are also being made.
It is time to reject the Tory scaremongering and join dozens of countries around the world who are helping to save their environment through deposit return schemes.
I’m proud it will be Scottish Greens in government delivering Scotland’s first Deposit Return Scheme.
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Image Credit: Michel Faklis