Scotland’s proposed deposit return scheme could have a real and lasting impact on tackling climate change – but needs to be available to all, and easy to operate, according to Holyrood committee in a report issued today.

Reporting on draft regulations setting up the scheme, laid before the Parliament, MSPs on the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee note that while the scheme itself has widespread support, there is disagreement about some aspects of its operation, including what materials should be included, how it will operate and when it will come into effect.

They accept that the scheme should focus initially on drinks containers, but call on the Government to consider making the scheme as comprehensive as possible and introduce other materials such as cartons, pouches and other plastics in a phased way.

It should also ensure that the infrastructure is in place to ensure that the scheme is accessible and available to all who need to use it. And ministers should put in place processes to ensure the scheme does not adversely impact groups with protected characteristics, people with limited mobility or access, those in remote or rural areas and those on low incomes.

While backing the proposed minimum deposit rate of 20p, the committee says there should be flexibility to vary that rate upwards to support the delivery of environmental and social outcomes.

An industry led scheme administrator should be set up with representatives from all parts of the supply chain.

Committee convener Gillian Martin MSP commented: “There is no doubting the ambition behind the introduction of the deposit return scheme in Scotland. And it is clear from those we heard from across the country that there is support for the scheme and its aims to help meet the challenging climate change targets and address the problems of litter, particularly in our marine environment.

“But for this scheme to be effective, we need to ensure that this operates in a way that is understandable and easy to use for the public and businesses alike. We support the initial focus of the scheme but have today asked the Government to ensure we can add materials to the scheme, in a phased way, so it is as wide-ranging as possible.

“We have also heard from many businesses about their concerns about how this will operate in practice. We believe the Scottish Government needs to listen to these concerns and we have asked for more information on the operation of the scheme before this is rolled out.”

Click here to view the report.