DRS Scotland

Scotland’s deposit return scheme for drink containers was a key milestone in the Scottish Government’s strategy to address climate change, improve recycling rates and reduce litter. However, with the continual pushbacks and now another setback from the UK Parliament, it is unknown what the Scottish National Party (SNP) will deliver when it comes to their Deposit Return Scheme.

The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020 was passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2020, which created the legal framework for the scheme. Once The Environmental Regulation (Enforcement Measures) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020 was passed, this gave additional powers to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to enforce the scheme.

A deposit return scheme involves consumers paying a small amount of money – the ‘deposit’ – for the container when they purchase a drink to take away. This is then refunded in full when they return the empty container. While the concept of a deposit return system for drink containers is nothing new, this has been the largest announcement for the UK in relation to changes to how we utilise and dispose of our recycling waste. A nationwide deposit return scheme which will require everyone producing and selling drinks in single-use containers to take part.

Schemes like this are already operating successfully in many countries across Europe and in several US and Australian states. The scheme is designed to deliver two major benefits. It will ensure that materials are recycled to the very highest standards, helping to build a circular economy and it will also reduce the occurrence of litter. As well as making Scotland the first to make such a change, this would provide a cleaner environment, protect the ecosystems, and save millions of pounds in clean-up and other associated costs.

Although, facing challenging obstacles via the latest news from the UK government announcing Scotland must remove glass from their scheme, and The Scottish circular economy minister, Lorna Slater, sharing a previously redacted gateway review into the country’s deposit return scheme, which detailed serious doubts raised about the viability of the scheme. It has cast doubt on whether Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers could ever have been delivered by its original August 2023 start date. It was announced that Scotland’s DRS will now go live in line with other schemes across the rest of the UK, the targeted start date being 1 October 2025.

Speaking about the announcement our Head of External Affairs Dave Gudgeon (MCIWM, CRWM) said “If you look at the requirements set forth by UK Government, it becomes ever more evident that they want Scotland to delay until the rest of the UK is ready in 2025.”