What is the deposit return scheme?

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.

Deposit Return Scheme Overview

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.

Where is it being implemented?

Scotland had planned to be  the first nation in the UK to  implementing a Deposit Return Scheme however in June 2023 this was delayed. You can read the statement from the Scottish Government here.  Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme will now launch in October 2025 at the same time as Deposit Return Schemes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Republic of Ireland has a separate Deposit Return Scheme going live in February 2024. You can find more information about the scheme here.

Why introduce a Deposit Return Scheme?

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.

There are over 50 Deposit Return Schemes in place across the world at the moment delivering against these key objectives.

What next?

The regulations are currently being drafted for the schemes for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and we know Scotland need to update their regulations for the delay. As more information becomes available, we will ensure that it is shared here with you.


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Are you ready for DRS?

It is coming no matter what, so read our guide to make sure you're prepared.

Getting ready for DRS