Page last updated at 01:03 GMT, Sunday, 27 July 2008 02:03 UK

Bottle recyclers 'could be paid'

recycling bins and bottles
Scotland only recycles up to 40% of its bottles

People could be paid to return empty bottles under radical new Scottish Government plans aimed at boosting recycling levels.

The plans would see "deposit and return" schemes introduced, where shoppers would get money for bringing back bottles.

The ideas form part of a consultation on possible legislation which hopes to create a "zero waste" society.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said fresh recycling ideas were needed.

Experts believe "deposit and return" schemes could significantly increase levels of recycling.

The time is now right for a major push towards making these targets a reality to help limit the effects of climate change
Richard Lochhead
Environment secretary

Mr Lochhead said: "The Scottish Government is committed to achieving a recycling rate of 70% and cutting municipal waste sent to landfill to 5% by 2025.

"The time is now right for a major push towards making these targets a reality to help limit the effects of climate change.

"To do this we must reduce the unnecessary use of raw materials, prevent waste and use more recycled material."

Such schemes used to operate on a non-statutory basis in Scotland, with consumers charged a deposit for some bottles, such as those for lemonade.

They got their deposit back when they returned the bottles, which were then sent back to the manufacturer for re-filling rather than recycling.

In Denmark, where the scheme is statutory, deposits apply to all cans and bottles containing beer, cider, soft drinks, alcopops and energy drinks.

Denmark's return rate for bottles for recycling is about 85%, and approaching about 100% for bottles designed for re-use.

The Scottish Government said the scheme could also be extended to other materials, including aluminium trays from takeaways and tin cans.

Financial reward

The use of high tech "reverse vending", where a consumer feeds the empty bottle or container into a machine for financial reward, is also being considered.

Mr Lochhead said that "deposit and return" schemes and "reverse vending" machines could double the number of bottles recycled in Scotland.

He said: "In Scotland, we estimate that currently around 30% to 40% of glass bottles are recycled and around 35% of household plastic bottles are recycled, using existing arrangements such as bottle banks in the street or elsewhere and kerbside collections.

"While these figures are undoubtedly an improvement on where we once were, there is still more we can do."

Dr Dan Barlow, head of policy for environment group WWF Scotland, welcomed the proposals.

He said: "Deposit and return systems which encourage refilling and recycling of cans and bottles have been shown to work very successfully elsewhere. We would support the introduction of a deposit return system in Scotland.

"Reducing the amount of waste we produce coupled to achieving much higher levels of recycling are essential if Scotland is to achieve its zero waste ambition."

The government said that any moves to introduce a statutory deposit and return system in Scotland would require close and further consultation with retailers and other bodies.

Any new statutory system would also need to be in line with Scotland's EU obligations.

Plan aims for zero waste society
11 Mar 08 |  Tayside and Central
Scotland's recycling 'on target'
04 Oct 06 |  Scotland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific