Jane Bickerstaffe of the Package Recycling Group Scotland, makes some bizarre and erroneous criticisms of my motion, supported by all councillors, to introduce a deposit return system (DRS) for drinks containers.
A quick look at the PRGS web site reveals it to be “a new group of over 30 leading trade organisations and companies from across the drinks and food packaging supply chain” - hardly therefore in a position to form an objective view on a system designed to move the responsibility of dealing with waste from council taxpayers to that part of the industry the PRGS represents!
Ms Bickerstaffe claims that a DRS would “result in a substantial loss of income from local authorities’ own kerbside recycling services”. However, the opposite would be the case.
Due to an oversupply of recyclable materials in the market, councils are currently paying companies to take recyclables - in Midlothian’s case around £15 per tonne. Removing materials from blue and red bins would therefore help council finances rather than “put more strain on local services” as she claims.
Secondly, she claims a DRS would put more vehicles on the road. Given that vehicles delivering food and drink to shops are returning empty and would now be carrying returned containers, the only impact on vehicular use would be a reduction in council bin lorry trips required.
Her concern to reduce carbon emissions would be further enlightened were she to examine the huge saving in energy involved in washing and sterilising used bottles compared to grinding and melting glass to create new ones. Even melting and re-using plastic bottles is more efficient as the level of contamination and mixing of different plastic is far lower with returned bottles.
The claim that a DRS would lead to greater littering is simply bizarre. How on earth can removing waste from the system increase littering? The statement that irresponsible people still litter in countries like Sweden, which operates a DRS, seems to suggest a causal relationship, yet no evidence is offered for this.
The PRGS appears to exist solely to oppose the introduction of a DRS in order to protect the financial interests of those it represents. It doesn’t not, however, seem to be interested in reducing waste, energy use, littering or costs to local council taxpayers which a DRS would clearly deliver.
Councillor Ian Baxter
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