Scottish DRS will have damaging consequences

British Glass, the body representing the £1.6 billion UK glass sector, says it is “deeply disappointed” by the Scottish Parliament’s decision to bring in a deposit return scheme (DRS) for recycling that includes glass. “We have been warning for a long time that the system will have damaging consequences for the UK glass manufacturing sector” commented Dave Dalton, Chief Executive. “The UK sector has led moves to increase recycling through investments in infrastructure and communications. Including glass in the proposed DRS will undermine these efforts, increase cost and reduce the amount of glass recycled into new containers. The DRS plans will derail the high levels of recycling already achieved through the existing systems.

“That is not to say that we are happy with the recycling rate and are resting on our laurels. We fully recognise there is further work to be done to increase recycling of glass containers – but the DRS is not the way forward and will result in less recycling and more glass being disposed of via landfill or incineration.”

Mr Dalton added: “Despite presenting hard facts to the Scottish Government and its agency Zero Waste Scotland on the negative effects across the UK and the unintended consequences of including glass in the DRS, they refuse to take a pragmatic and common sense approach in designing the scheme. We accept that for some materials, a deposit return scheme will work well and help the Scottish Government achieve its objectives of reducing litter and increasing recycling but the case to include glass is not clear cut.

“We have presented the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland with an independent assessment of the market dynamics and the costs and operational difficulties involved in including glass within the DRS but they are unwilling to listen. “Including glass in a DRS will result in a 28% increase in the day-to-day operational cost of the scheme. These are costs that will ultimately be passed on to the consumer – on top of the deposit required. The effects of this will be catastrophic for the glass manufacturing sector in Scotland. It will mean a drop in the sale of beverages in glass and a knock-on effect on manufacturing.”

John Lee, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Scottish Grocers Federation commented: “We are massively disappointed to see glass being included within the scope of the Scottish system. This presents major challenges for small retailers. We will work with key industry colleagues through the Parliamentary process to ensure MSPs understand the issues around glass.”

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Associations, whose members are major customers of the glass container sector, added: “We believe glass is the perfect option for packaging liquid. All UK politicians should recognise this and seek to encourage the use of glass rather than include it in any DRS.”