Rethinking and optimising post-consumer packaging waste: A sentiment analysis of consumers' perceptions towards the introduction of a deposit refund scheme in Scotland

Waste Manag. 2020 Dec;118:463-470. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2020.09.008. Epub 2020 Sep 23.


Packaging waste production, especially single-use containers, is exerting detrimental effects on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including human health. To internalise the externalities associated with single-use containers, different instruments, including a deposit refund scheme (DRS), have been operationalised in many countries. Therefore, DRS is introduced in Scotland to reduce plastic litters by increasing recycling rates and incentivising pro-environmental behavioural change. This study addresses the complexity of single-use plastic containers by analysing consumers' perceptions regarding the introduction of DRS in Scotland. Using 940 comments from the BBC "Have Your Say" messageboard, this study adopts sentiment analysis to understand consumers' opinions about the introduction and implementation of DRS in Scotland. Findings suggest that a UK-wide scheme that is similar in terms of operations and structure is required for DRS to be successful. While consumers' knowledge and opinions about DRS are mixed, the efficacy of DRS including its relevance is questioned and raises doubts about its contribution to sustainability. The findings imply the need for UK countries to negotiate and collaborate on appropriate and attractive interventions in addressing post-consumer single-use plastic containers. The implications of the findings for policy and practice, especially in improving the operations of DRS are further discussed.

Keywords: Deposit refund scheme; Plastic waste; Sentiment analysis; Sustainability.

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Ecosystem*
  • Humans
  • Plastics
  • Product Packaging*
  • Recycling
  • Scotland


  • Plastics