Scotland votes in favour of deposit return scheme

The Scottish Parliament has voted in favour of a deposit return scheme (DRS) for Scotland.

This means Scotland will soon be the first part of the UK to introduce a DRS for drinks containers.

The scheme will be available across all of Scotland from 1 July 2022, and will set out to make it easier for people to recycle used bottles and cans, including all drinks sold in PET plastic, metal and glass.

The scheme will see a deposit value added to the price of a beverage products in store, which will be refunded to the customer when empty packaging is returned to a designated collection point.

A flat deposit fee of 20p will be applied to all sizes of container.

The final regulations, which were laid in the Scottish Parliament in March, maintain the approach to materials, with glass included alongside PET plastic and aluminium and steel.

Following consultation with island communities, feedback from the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee and stakeholder input, the Scottish Government made changes to the regulations. These include a commitment to review the performance of the scheme by October 2026, including the deposit level, materials and the collection targets.

Now that the scheme has passed into law, details on how to apply to become a scheme administrator(s) that will run Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme will be available shortly.


The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) recently criticised the Scottish Government over the proposed scheme, saying it had failed to fully consider the potential unintended consequences of DRS regulations in their current form.

Under the proposed regulations, a flat deposit fee of 20p will be applied to all sizes of container. Alupro says this could see customers charged an additional £4.80 upfront for a 24-can multipack, while only 80 pence for the same volume of drink packed in four large plastic bottles.

It says, in this scenario, independent research suggests two thirds of consumers would be likely to opt for larger plastic alternatives, resulting in what it calls the “unnecessary production” of c.82 million additional plastic bottles.

Pausing legislation

British Glass recently urged ministers to pause the Scottish Government’s DRS Regulations until the full impact of COVID-19 and its consequences on the drinks supply chain and local authorities are able to be evaluated.

Insights gained by recent research commissioned by British Glass and undertaken by Toluna

suggest 61% of householders believe the DRS in Scotland should be “delayed or paused”.

“Now is not the time to push this through as we see huge shifts in the volumes of household recycling, as well as the lack of material available from the hospitality sector and pressures on local authority recycling services.

“Both the UK and Scottish Governments are in the process of working towards a route out of lockdown – It is simply not possible for an informed decision regarding what the “new normal” will look like for recycling rates and several other factors which have a significant impact on DRS.”

For more information on how the DRS will work, click here.

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