Scotland: Is your business ready for the Deposit Return Scheme?

22 November, 2022

From August next year, if you make, import, buy or sell drinks in Scotland you may have legal responsibilities under The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020.

What is Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme?

When Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is introduced in August 2023, people will pay a 20p deposit when they buy a drink in a single-use container. They will get this back when they return the empty container to a return point.

Drinks producers play an important role in the scheme. They are responsible for the management and collection of their empty drink containers for recycling. All drinks sold in PET plastic, glass, steel or aluminium sized between 50ml and three litres will be included.

You are a drinks producer if you are:

  • a drinks brand owner (for scheme articles branded in the UK);
  • an importer of drinks into the UK for sale to consumers in Scotland (for scheme articles branded outside the UK);
  • selling drinks in single-use containers that are filled and sealed by the retailer at the point of sale.

The role of producers and retailers

If you produce or import drinks for sale in Scotland that are sold in scheme containers, you must register to be part of the scheme. If you sell drinks in scheme containers to consumers in Scotland, you will have to make sure they are from a registered producer and charge the deposit on each drink. You may also have to operate a return point or offer a takeback service.

If businesses are not registered with SEPA by 1 March 2023, they may not be able to sell your drinks in Scotland after August 2023. Producers can register either directly with SEPA, or through the scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland.

Drinks producers can either discharge their obligations directly or nominate a scheme administrator to fulfil these obligations on their behalf.

SEPA will regulate the scheme and is responsible for the producer registration service, which opens in January 2023.

What are the benefits of a Deposit Return Scheme?

DRS is an industry-led scheme. It is designed to encourage the return of empty single-use containers for collection for recycling – helping to tackle climate change, increase the quantity and quality of materials collected for recycling and decrease litter.

It is an example of extended producer responsibility and a significant step towards developing a more circular economy. By 2025, the scheme will capture 90% of all drink containers included in the scheme, which is expected to provide two billion drink containers a year for recycling.

Further information:

It is important for businesses to prepare for DRS now. SEPA can help. There is up to date guidance on the SEPA website that sets out what retailers and producers need to do to prepare for registration. This includes information on routes to register, a guide to help determine which drinks are part of the scheme and operational plan guidance.

It is expected that the rest of the UK will follow with the DRS in 2024.

Share this article:

Stay connected

Enter your email address to be kept up to date with latest news, company developments and market insights. You can unsubscribe at any time.
View our Privacy Policy.