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How high-quality recycling unlocks the value in single-use packaging

At Changeworks Recycling, they know that not all recycling is equal. 

The lower the level of contamination, the better the quality. And the better the quality, the more money it is worth.

Alongside reducing our carbon emissions, increasing the quality of recycling is one of the main goals of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme. By collecting PET plastic, aluminium and steel cans, and glass bottles separately, drinks containers will be recycled with minimal contamination. This will improve the quality of recycled material collected and make better use of our resources. It will also increase the number of items being recycled into items of the same use or quality – for example, bottles being recycled back into bottles.

Zero Waste Scotland’s Chief Operating Office Jill Farrell and Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham visited Changeworks this week to launch a series of impact assessments, documents that help lay the ground for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme.

Ken McLean, Operations Director at Changeworks Recycling, explained the benefits of high-quality recycling and the role of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme:

“Scotland has really ambitious waste reduction targets and the introduction of a deposit return scheme is a step in the right direction to increasing recycling rates.

“Separate collections are much more effective than mixed recycling at achieving the high quality and capture levels required to build and support the circular economy and make sure that no economic or environmental opportunities are missed. Deposit Return is a high quality recycling initiative that demonstrates Scotland's action on tackling the global climate emergency.”

Giving packaging a value

A new report from Zero Waste Scotland shows that people in Scotland spend £600m a year on single-use packaging. For some items, packaging isn’t necessary or there’s an easy, re-usable alternative. But we also need to look at how we minimise waste from unavoidable or hard to replace single-use packaging.  

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme will help shift attitudes towards single-use packaging by giving it a value.

Jill Farrell: "Putting a 20p deposit on bottles and cans places a value on the packaging and gives people an extra incentive to look after it. Because the glass, plastic and metals will be captured separately, the quality of the materials will be high, allowing them to be recycled over and over again. By turning bottles into more bottles, and cans into more cans, we can get the best economic return on our resources and reduce the damaging emissions that are contributing to the climate emergency.”

You can view the Full Business Regulatory Impact Assessment, Full Equality Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment: Post Adoption Statement on the Scottish Government website

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