The Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is a can and bottle recycling scheme where consumers pay a 20p deposit on a beverage in a single use container, which can be reclaimed by consumers upon return of the empty container. The scheme aims to incentivise positive behavioural change and encourage people to return bottles and cans for recycling by placing value on a single use container.
The Deposit Return Scheme introduces new requirements and recycling responsibilities for businesses operating across the UK including retailers, producers, and hospitality. We’re here to help you understand, prepare, and successfully participate in the Deposit Return Scheme when goes live.
Scotland is the first nation in the UK to commit to implementing a Deposit Return Scheme. Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme to boost can and bottle recycling will be implemented and available to consumers from July 2022. The law (The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020) was passed in May 2020. Zero Waste Scotland has advised on the design and is working with stakeholders on implementing the scheme.
The Regulations lay out in detail the responsibilities on key industries such as drinks producers and retailers (https://depositreturnscheme.zerowastescotland.org.uk/regulations) and set out a path to implementation of the scheme, allowing organisations to step up preparations.
The rest of the UK is hoping to launch a DRS scheme in 2023.
A deposit return scheme incentivises behaviour change, presents a symbolic challenge to a throwaway culture and is a significant further step on our journey to developing a more circular economy. Benefits will also include more and better recycling, litter prevention, and tackling climate change.
The design of our national deposit return scheme is a blueprint for a world-class recycling system that makes it easy for everyone to recycle bottles and cans.
The design principle is that it should be as easy for consumers return an empty container as it is to buy the product in the first place.
The scheme will be run day-to-day by a not-for-profit Scheme Administrator appointed by the Scottish Government. SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) will regulate the whole scheme and will enforce the legal requirements.
Producers will fund the scheme and taking a lead role to implement it. It is also expected that retailers will be represented to support governance of the Scheme Administrator.
A section giving a broad overview of how the scheme is funded and what financial impact the DRS will have on outlets; expected expenses and returns (handling fees.) Appropriate sections should link to the financial FAQs page.
Producers can choose to appoint a Scheme Administrator to meet many of the Deposit Return Scheme obligations on their collective behalf. Any Scheme Administrator must be approved by the Scottish Ministers before it can operate as such.
The responsibilities of the Scheme Administrator are:
The producer is the drinks brand owner or importer into the UK market (or, in the case of online sales, the operator of the website through which the product is sold.) An importer is where a scheme article is sold (a) for the first time in the United Kingdom, (b) to a consumer in Scotland, and (c) by way of a retail sale. Branded and own-label products are both included. Producers may formally register from 1st January 2022.
For drinks to be sold in Scotland, the producer/brand must:
The retailer is the person who sells scheme containers to consumers. For the Deposit Return Scheme, retailers means anywhere that sells the scheme containers, including “out-of-home” venues such as pubs, hotels, ice cream vans, a vending machine, or an online sale. The way in which the retailer sells the scheme containers will determine their obligations under the scheme.
To meet their obligations to the Deposit Return Scheme the retailer must:
The consumer is the ultimate purchaser of the scheme container. The consumer is expected (but not legally required) to return the container.
To participate in the Deposit Return Scheme the consumer must:
Visit depositreturnscheme.zerowastescotland.org.uk for more information.