Drinks deposit scheme to go live in Scotland 2023

The UK’s first deposit return scheme (DRS) will go live across Scotland on 16 August 2023, 18 months later than originally planned, the Scottish government has announced.

Under the scheme, people 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 tens of thousands of return points.

The announcement follows an independent review, which considered the impact of Covid-19 on the scheme.

Lorna Slater, the circular economy minister for Scotland, said that the nation’s target of achieving 90% collection rates by 2024 would still be maintained.

She added that as part of the phased implementation, the Scottish government was working with retailers on a voluntary basis to enable people to start returning their bottles and cans for recycling from November 2022.

The scheme had been delayed to July 2022 from its original start date in April 2021.

Slater said that “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”.

However, she added that “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”.

In May, the Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee  criticised the government after it delayed the introduction of a DRS in England until 2024.

Some waste industry experts have repeatedly called for a simple system which should be rolled out consistently across the four nations of the UK.