SCOTLAND'S new deposit return scheme will include aluminium and steel cans as well as drinks containers made of glass and Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced.

The scheme, the first in the UK, will place a return value on items of 20p and will be up and running by the end of the current Parliament in 2021.

The aim will be to capture 90% of drinks containers for recycling within three years.

Jill Farrell, chief operating officer at Zero Waste Scotland, said the scheme will be a "game-changer"

In a statement to MSPs, Cunningham said the scheme will not include high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic - primarily used for packaging fresh milk - due to concerns over potential contamination of other materials and odour. This could be added at a later stage if such concerns are addressed.

A "return to retail" service will be implemented as part of the scheme, with all businesses which sell drinks required to accept returns.

Smaller retailers, Cunningham said, would be given flexibility in how they enable returns through different sizes of reverse vending machines or manual over-the-counter take-back arrangements.

Premises such as pubs and restaurants where drinks are sold for consumption on site will pay the deposit but will have the choice on whether to pass it on to the consumer, Cunningham confirmed.

She said: "I acknowledge that our plans are ambitious. Whilst I make no apology for this, I also do not underestimate the scale of the task. I look forward to working with partners to plan next steps.

"I remain very open to working with the other UK administrations which are currently consulting on DRS [deposit return schemes]. However, this must be on the basis that their ambition matches our own.

"Our climate change commitments mean it is simply not an option for us to wait in the hope that others will follow the example we are now setting. With that said, I'm optimistic that the bold approach we are taking here in Scotland will provide a blueprint for future action across the UK."

Zero Waste Scotland's Farrell said: "This will be a game-changer for recycling and the circular economy in Scotland.

"It will improve the volume and quality of recycling and help tackle litter in the process."

Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesman Liam McArthur said introducing the scheme is the right thing to do in order to end the country's throwaway culture.

He said: "As we iron out the details it is essential that there are no unintended consequences.

"Island and rural areas must be properly accounted for, and we need to be certain that the inclusion of glass won't cause manufacturers to turn to more harmful materials.

"The next step must be moving urgently to tackle the mountain of coffee cup waste through a latte levy, preventing millions of cups going straight to landfill."