Scotland’s deposit return scheme to go live in August 2023


SCOTLAND’S deposit return scheme (DRS) is to go live across the country on 16 August 2023, the Scottish Government has announced.

Lorna Slater, circular economy minister, set out plans for a phased implementation of the scheme, and 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. 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.”

Councillor Graham Sinclair, chair of Orkney Council’s development and infrastructure committee, added, “Orkney Islands Council is committed to working with both local and national organisations to improve recycling rates and to ensure that materials are kept in use for as long as possible. We welcome this initiative on the return of drinks containers in Orkney and are supportive of the aims and objectives.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, commented, “Zero Waste Scotland is proud to have advised on the design of Scotland’s deposit return scheme, a game changer 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.”