Almost every bottle or can sold in Scotland will come with an additional 20p charge once new recycling rules come into force this year.
The long-delayed Scottish Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is due to start on August 16, 2023.
When it does, nearly all bottles and cans sold in metal, glass, or plastic with a specific PET recycling logo, will require a 20p “deposit”.
And you’ll only be able to claim it back if you follow the new rules.
How do the 20p Scottish recycling rules work?
The 20p deposit scheme covers practically all bottles of wine, cans of beer and bottles of fizzy juice.
It means the likes of a 10-pack of cans will cost £2 more than usual – while a crate of 24 will come in at an extra £4.80.
Instead of popping the empties in your household recycling, you’ll need to work a bit harder to claim the difference back.
How do I get my 20p per container back?
You will be able to take them to what is called a reverse vending machine (RVM).
These take in empty containers and give out cash, and will soon be popping up at supermarkets across Scotland.
For every eligible container you put into one, you will get the 20p deposit you paid for each one back.
It’s possible they might also give you a voucher to spend in-store or let you donate the proceeds directly to charity.
All shops that sell eligible containers will be expected to have a reverse vending machine, or accept returns from customers manually.
Shops will be able to apply for exemptions in certain cases.
And the scheme also doesn’t apply to containers smaller than 50ml, larger than three litres, or made from plastic without the PET symbol — like milk cartons, for instance.
What’s the point of the new 20p recycling rules for Scotland?
The aim of the scheme is to increase how much waste gets recycled in Scotland.
By adding a 20p deposit, it gives people a financial incentive to do their part.
At the moment, only around half of the PET plastic, metal or glass drinks containers sold in Scotland are properly recycled.
Under the new scheme, it’s hoped this will soar to an ambitious 90%.
This would also result in 34,000 fewer plastic bottles being littered across the country every day, it is estimated.
The 20p scheme would also potentially cut Scotland’s carbon footprint by 160,000 tonnes a year — the equivalent of taking 83,000 cars off the road.
Stuart Murray, who heads up resource management, waste and recycling for Zero Waste Scotland says it will be “a transformation for Scotland in terms of how we interact with packaging”.
He added: “It’s a very visible part of the litter stream, so giving value to containers will really incentivise different behaviours”.
Will the big 20p change happen overnight?
Although the scheme will officially start on August 16 this year, not every container will immediately have a 20p deposit attached.
This is because of the variety of different drinks containers covered, and the new rules allowing for some flexibility with the roll-out.
All drinks producers will be expected to eventually label their containers appropriately so that they can be accepted into the return scheme.
It’s only when they do that they’ll come with the 20p deposit for each consumer purchase.
Stuart gave an example of a bottle of whisky, which is much more likely to sit on a shop shelf for a very long time than a can of cola or a bottle of lemonade.
So there will be a longer period for certain products to roll out the changes than others.
Stuart said: “It will be clear which are scheme articles, and which are not.”
So if you were thinking of hoarding all of your empties from your Hogmanay party for a big payday in August, think again.
Are enough people aware of the changes?
With only eight months until the Scottish DRS goes live, we asked Stuart if he thinks enough people are aware of the big changes which will soon enter their everyday lives.
He said: “Yes, I think people know about the scheme”.
But he says there’s a “balance between being aware that the scheme is coming, and being aware of how to use the scheme”.
In the months leading up to the change, ad campaigns will spread the word and show people how to prepare.
The Zero Waste Scotland boss added: “We’ve done surveys, and over 70% of people are in favour of DRS.
“I think consumers can see the environmental benefits of implementing the scheme.
“We’re going to get more recycling, we’ll get better quality recycling that can go into food-grade packaging, and we’ll have less litter as well.
“We did a lot of work in setting the deposit level to ensure that it incentivises the consumer to do the right thing and return their container into the scheme, and 20p was the most popular in the consultation that we did.
“We’re confident that giving the value to the container will see the behaviour change we want to see.”