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Scotland to charge 20p deposit on bottles and cans – but you'll get it back if you recycle

The Scottish Government has today announced plans to charge 20p deposits on bottles and cans – which will be refunded if they're returned – in a bid to increase recycling.

The scheme will place a "return value" of 20p on many plastic bottles, glass bottles and steel or aluminium drinks cans.

The Scottish Government says it hopes to introduce legislation for the scheme by the end of this year. It would then take at least 12 months to implement the scheme.

There is currently a consultation on whether to introduce a bottle deposit scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

See our 13 ways to use less plastic AND save cash for more info on saving money while helping the environment.

What type of bottles are included?

The deposit will apply to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles – typically used for bottles of water or fizzy drinks – glass bottles and steel or aluminium cans, which are 50ml to three litres in size.

It won't apply to mixed material pouches, cartons, cups or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, which is the type of plastic most milk bottles are made of.

How will the scheme work?

Under the new scheme, anyone buying a bottle or can would need to pay a 20p deposit upfront, which would be added to the cost of the drink.

If the shopper later returns the bottle or can to be recycled, they will get their 20p back.

Consumers will be able to return the bottle or can to any retailer or business which sells drinks in single-use containers to take away – including online retailers. Every collection point will need to accept all types of container included in the deposit scheme.

Collection points could be "reverse vending machines", where a consumer places the container in a machine to be verified, and will be given a voucher or digital credit for the deposit amount.

Retailers will also be able to offer manual returns, where shop staff check the item being returned and refund the customer their deposit.

If a consumer buys a bottle or can and doesn't return it, the unclaimed deposit will be used to fund the running of the scheme.

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