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Scotland gains £80m investment towards bottle and can recycling

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme, enabling the collection, sorting and recycling of drinks packaging, has received an £80m (US$97m) boost.

The investment, made by British waste management company Biffa, is set to develop the infrastructure needed to for plastic, glass, and aluminium drinks packaging to ultimately be recycled back into new bottles and cans to use again.

The Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), which is planned to go live from August 2023, will involve consumers paying a small deposit of 20p when they buy a drink in a single-use container and get their deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can.

According to packaging reports, Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said: “With billions of bottles and cans to be collected, sorted and recycled, the scheme will be a major national undertaking.”

Biffa, which is Circularity Scotland’s official DRS logistics service partner, is said to be spending £6m of the overall investment on converting a former parcel depot on the Eurocentral industrial park in Motherwell into a state-of-the-art drinks packaging recycling centre.

As a direct result of DRS, Biffa has said that it believes it will be able to offer approximately 500 jobs, with around 140 of those jobs being based at its new packaging recycling centre in Motherwell.

Circularity Scotland’s chief executive David Harris explained: “The DRS will transform how Scotland recycles, preventing billions of bottles and cans each year from ending up as waste.”

Slater added: “This investment is a direct result of Scotland’s DRS and shows the wider benefits it will bring to our environment and economy.”

Despite many larger drinks producers already signing up, small drinks producers in Scotland could be granted a year-long grace period from the DRS.

In November last year, more than 500 drinks producers and hospitality operators signed an open letter calling for the Scottish government to pause and revise the DRS, warning of a potential “high-profile failure” if the project went ahead as planned.

The government has additionally announced a new target of October 2025 for the roll out of a DRS in England and Northern Ireland.

Despite inroads made towards the DPS due this summer, reports from The Guardian have stated that the UK government is poised to block the Scottish recycling initiative.

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