Simon Oldham - Scottish Container Deposit System - Westlands Hotel Thursday 8 August @ 18.30

Thu 8th August 2019 at 18.00 - 20.30

Simon Oldham - Scottish Container Deposit System - Westlands Hotel Thursday 8 August @ 18.30

Simon and Craig

Simon Oldham - Scottish Container Deposit System - Westlands Hotel Thursday 8 August @ 18.30

SCOTTISH CONTAINER DEPOSIT SCHEME

Simon Oldham, a Director of the Highland Spring Group, gave a thought-provoking talk to the Club on Thursday. While reporting the achievements of Highland Spring, he highlighted its commitment to reducing plastic waste.  In that context, he also referred to proposals by the Scottish government to implement a deposit return scheme for drinks containers.

Highland Spring, established in 1979, and now operating over four sites in the UK, became, in 2012, the UK’s number one supplier of bottled water, a position that it still maintains, selling some 560 million litres of water each year.  In that pre-eminent position, the Company recognises its responsibility, among other things, to promote a step change in the recycling of plastic products.  It has already made a number of strides in that direction, including a reduction in plastic packaging, and the introduction of a range of bottles produced 100 per cent from recycled plastic.   

Looking more widely, Simon spoke about the government’s intention to introduce a scheme by May 2021 whereby those purchasing plastic, glass and metal drinks containers would be charged a deposit of 20 pence per item.  Purchasers would get this money back when they returned the bottle or can to a collection point to be recycled.  The government’s aim is to effect a behavioural change in the public’s attitude to recycling plastic, glass and cans, and, associated with this, to introduce an effective methodology for those returning the containers and, thereby, recovering the deposit.  The scale of this challenge is highlighted by the fact that there are three billion bottles/cans sold each year in Scotland.  One possibility is to establish what are called reverse vending machines.  As the name suggests, these would receive the empty bottles/cans and provide a credit voucher to the person depositing.  However, not surprisingly, much work remains to be done to find effective solutions that will ensure a viable and workable scheme.

Craig Mair thanked Simon for this insight into the drinks industry, and for information on the government’s proposals for improving recycling.  It was an authoritative and entertaining account of the current position.