Updates to the Scottish Deposit Return Scheme

Date : 26 April 2023

The Scottish Government has opted to delay it’s Deposit Return Scheme by 7 months to 1st March 2024. It has also announced several changes to the operation of the scheme.

The new First Minister, Humza Yousuf announced that the Scottish Deposit Return Scheme will be delayed from its original launch date of 16th August 2023 to 1st March 2024.

Several changes have been announced to the scheme, these include:

  • Small drinks containers of under 100ml will be excluded.
  • Products that sell fewer than 5,000 units per year will be excluded.
  • Hospitality businesses that sell the large majority of their drink’s products for consumption on their premises will be exempt from acting as a return point.
  • The online application process for retailers to apply for exemptions to hosting a return point has been simplified.

The Scottish Government estimates that introducing the threshold of products that sell fewer than 5,000 units per year will remove only 0.5% of the articles of packaging but will remove the need for 44% of businesses to apply a deposit to their products.

The Scottish Government will engage with hospitality businesses in the intervening period to design an appropriate position on the proportion of sales when hospitality measures begin to apply.

The scheme will continue to apply to all drink’s containers over 100ml to 3L. Drinks producers now have until 12 January 2024 to register for the scheme.

The Scottish Government stated that the scheme at this point is unable to go ahead without an exemption from the Internal Market Act which is yet to be agreed by the UK government.

Earlier in the year, the UK government announced the Deposit Return Scheme for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is due be introduced in October 2025 at the earliest.

The scheme will cover polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and steel and aluminium cans in England and Northern Ireland. The Welsh scheme will also cover glass bottles, which is in line with the planned Scottish scheme.

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