Deposit return scheme Scotland

What is the Deposit Return Scheme? (DRS)

The deposit return scheme is a new cash incentive system that places a deposit on drinks bottles and cans in order to boost consumer recycling.

In order to achieve this, dedicated return machines at designated locations will be developed, allowing people to return their bottles and receive their deposit cash back.

In most cases, the outlet that sold the drink is covered by the scheme and would therefore be responsible for hosting a return machine point.

You can find more specific information regarding Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) further down this page.

    Bidfood legislative support - DRS Scotland

    The facts

    Every year in the UK, consumers go through an average of 14 billion plastic drinks bottles and nine million drinks cans – many of which are littered or condemned to landfills.

    International examples show that a deposit return scheme can become a simple part of daily life to make recycling easier, with recycling rates now above 90% in Germany, Finland and Norway.

    Current recycling rates for drinks containers in the UK sit at around 70%.

    Whats happening and when?

    Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme aims to go live in October 2027 and although this date is subject to change, there is a lot of work that needs to be done across the industry to ensure we’re all ready. Although not confirmed, we currently understand that the scheme is set to be introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland at some point in 2027.

    What is the circular economy?

    Circularity Scotland is an organisation that has been created to ensure the smooth roll-out and successful operation of Scotland’s deposit return scheme.

    As scheme administrators, they bring together key operational partners right across the drinks supply chain, from producers and importers, through to hospitality, wholesale and retail businesses. They work to ensure the scheme is designed and implemented effectively and support everyone in meeting their legal obligations.

    Click the link to find out about circular economy.

    Find out more about circular economy

    How does the scheme work?

    • 1. The producer

      The producer pays a deposit and producer fee and sends the data for each sold container to Circularity Scotland. The producer then charges a price and deposit for each container sold to their customers for sale in Scotland.

    • 2. Producer charges price

      The producer then charges a price and deposit for each container sold to their customers for sale in Scotland

    • 3. The outlet

      An outlet will charge a deposit on sale to the consumer, regaining their deposit as they have it paid to the producer.

    • 4. The consumer

      The consumer will return the container, redeeming their deposit.

    • 5. Return and logistics

      Circularity Scotland arranges and pays for the transportation of DRS containers through their logistics partner BIFFA. This is then followed by the consolidation, counting and validation of all returned containers.

    • 6. Recycling

      The material is recycled and converted into new packaging.

    Legislative support

    • Legislative support

    Legislative support

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