The UK’s first deposit return scheme (DRS) will now go live across Scotland on 16 August 2023, marking the second delay to the roll out of the scheme.
The announcement follows an independent review, which considered the impact of COVID-19 on the scheme, the Scottish Government says.
In 2020, the scheme was originally pushed back to from 2021 to 2022 to give retailers and producers “time to prepare for a successful scheme from day one”, according to the then Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham.
Addressing parliament, the Circular Economy Minister has now set out plans for a ‘phased implementation of the scheme’ but said the target of achieving 90% collection rates by 2024 will be maintained.
As part of the ‘phased implementation’, the Scottish Government is working with retailers on a voluntary basis to enable people to start returning their bottles and cans for recycling from November 2022.
Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said: “This will be the first scheme of its kind in the UK and one of the most environmentally ambitious and accessible in Europe.
Given the challenges that the pandemic and Brexit have placed upon these businesses, it is disappointing – but understandable – that the independent review concluded the original start date was no longer feasible
“Implementing a scheme on this scale is a massive national undertaking involving tens of thousands of producers and retailers. Given the challenges that the pandemic and Brexit have placed upon these businesses, it is disappointing – but understandable – that the independent review concluded the original start date was no longer feasible.
“Despite calls to water down the scheme by removing materials or waiting for other nations to catch up, we have maintained our ambition and ensured that the scheme will still meet its original target of achieving 90% collection rates by 2024.
“We have also published a clear plan for delivery, with critical milestones on the path to full implementation. These include use of return points on a voluntary basis by retailers from November 2022.
“I am also delighted that Orkney will go early in offering a return scheme, which will provide benefits to the local community and recycling.”
People in Scotland will pay a 20p deposit when they buy a drink that comes in a single-use container made of PET plastic, steel and aluminium, or glass.
They will get their money back when they return the empty container to one of the return points.
The Minister said the legal requirement to collect at least 90% of eligible containers will now have to be met in the second year of operation, not the third. This means that the scheme will still be expected to meet its original target of achieving 90% collection rates by 2024.
Key milestones for delivery of the scheme include:
- by March 2022, Circularity Scotland will have signed contracts with partners to deliver its logistics, operations and IT systems
- by August 2022, the public awareness campaign will be launched and counting and sorting centres will start to be built
- retailers will start rolling out the return infrastructure in earnest from next summer and we are working with them to start using that infrastructure on a voluntary basis from November 2022.
- Orkney will see a community-run return scheme operating in November 2022.
- in January 2023, Circularity Scotland and SEPA will begin the process to register producers
- in July 2023, there will be end-to-end testing of containers through the system.
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland said: “Zero Waste Scotland is proud to have advised on the design of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme, a gamechanger with multiple benefits including reduced carbon emissions, more and better recycling, and the removal of up to one third of the litter from our streets.
“Despite the uncertainty wrought by the pandemic I’m delighted we now have a go-live date for this important scheme, which Zero Waste Scotland will continue to support.
“We are excited to be working with Orkney Islands Council, Circularity Scotland and the Scottish Government on an initiative on the islands of Orkney from next year.”