Coca-Cola, the world’s largest drinks manufacturers, has pledged support to test a plastic bottle deposit return scheme in Scotland, reports Holyrood.
The deposit return scheme, which encourages consumers to return the packaging by reimbursing an initial surcharge on the product, was opposed by Coca-Cola until last Tuesday, when it announced it would support the idea at an event in Scotland.
In a release, Coca-Cola said that the time was right to trial new interventions such as a well-designed deposit scheme for drinks containers. This made sense in Scotland where conversations are underway.
“From our experience elsewhere in Europe, we know that deposit schemes can work if they are developed as part of an overall strategy on the circular economy, in collaboration with all industry stakeholders. We are open to exploring any well-thought-through initiative that has the potential to increase recycling and reduce litter,” read the statement by Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola’s support is a major win for environmental groups lobbying the Scottish government to introduce the scheme, which they say will prevent pollution and boost recycling rates in the country. The Scottish parliament environment committee has set up a subgroup to examine the proposal.
Across the UK, there is widespread consumer support for deposit return schemes. According to the Guardian, a poll by Survation for the APRS found that 79 percent of Scots were in favour, while Coca-Cola’s own polling showed 63 percent support in the UK.
Zero Waste Europe is one of a number of NGOs that advocate the benefits of deposit return schemes as a way to return packaging to manufacturers and use resources more efficiently. Such schemes already exist in Germany and the Nordics.
According to the European Environment Agency, plastic bags and PET bottles are one of the biggest sources of marine litter. This is a problem because, firstly, plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose and poisons biodiversity along the food chain, and secondly, the manufacture of each bottle incurs creates pollution and emissions at each stage of production.