Despite being strongly opposed to the idea of a deposit return scheme (DRS) in the past, Coca-Cola has embarked on a policy u-turn by throwing its weight behind such a scheme in Scotland.
By allowing customers to return their drinks by adding a small refundable charge of around 20p at the point of sale, the DRS is designed to increase plastic bottle recycling rates, which have already proved successful in Germany, Sweden, and Denmark.
Arguing that it could negatively impact its business, the company announced that it was supporting a DRS in Scotland.
Speaking to The Independent, Coca-Cola UK said:
We have embarked on a major review of our sustainable packaging strategy to understand what role we can play in unlocking the full potential of a circular economy in Great Britain.
“Our sustainable packaging review is ongoing, but it’s already clear from our conversations with experts that the time is right to trial new interventions such as a well-designed deposit return scheme for drinks containers, starting in Scotland where conversations are underway.”
According to the company, two thirds of its consumers agreed with the introduction of a scheme and just over half said that they would be more likely to recycle as a result.
Richard Lochhead MSP, Scotland’s Environmental Secretary, who is currently overseeing the debate said that:
This change of heart by the world’s biggest soft drink company is a very welcome and highly significant development in the campaign to introduce deposit and return schemes for drinks containers to improve recycling and tackle litter.
“It is refreshing that such a major player in the industry is willing to change its mind after looking at how such schemes work in countries around the world.”
A recent poll carried out by Survation for the APRS found that 79 per cent of Scottish people supported DRS, while only 8.5 per cent were found to oppose it.
Political parties in Wales have also floated the idea of a scheme, with the suggested deposit of 10p per bottle.
According to Recycle Now, UK households use on average 480 plastic bottles a year but recycle only 270 of them.