Drinks producers are being encouraged to register for Scotland’s deposit return scheme, which will go live on 16 August 2023.

Drinks producers are asked to register with the scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland, in order to participate in the recycling scheme and to help ensure that they meet their regulatory requirements.

Circularity Scotland confirmed that by midnight on 28 February, producers responsible for more than 2 billion recyclable drinks containers had registered for the scheme, representing more than 95% of the total volume of products sold in Scotland each year.

Products from a range of sectors including global soft drinks, craft brewers, wine importers and distilleries have been registered with the scheme. By 28 February, 26,000 products had been registered, illustrating the scale of the scheme and the choice that will exist for consumers.

Registration for Return Point Operators (RPOs) is also open.

An RPO is anyone who provides a service for the collection of recyclable PET plastic, metal and glass containers included in Scotland’s scheme and refunds consumers’ deposits.

This service can range from accepting returns over the counter and refunding consumers’ deposits from the till, to operating a Reverse Vending Machine which will automatically accept containers and refund deposits as vouchers.

Most retailers and hospitality businesses that sell drinks to take away are legally required to operate a return point. However, they can apply for an exemption based on proximity to other return points or environmental health reasons. This is being managed by Zero Waste Scotland.

The scheme is expected to cut littering by a third, reducing the amount spent by local authorities on litter clean up, and will increase recycling rates of single-use drinks containers from the current rate of approximately 50% towards 90%.

The First Minister has also written to the UK Prime Minister, reiterating that the UK Government must exclude the deposit return scheme regulations from the Internal Market Act. 

A formal process has been agreed between the UK Government and devolved governments to allow for certain policies to be excluded from the effects of UK Internal Market Act where relevant regulations differ between UK nations and agreement has been reached to manage divergent policy. This has already been used successfully to exclude Scotland’s ban on certain single-use plastic items to ensure the ban was effective.

The Scottish Government first requested an exclusion for DRS as part of the single use plastic exclusion in July 2021. The UK Government only agreed to grant a narrower exclusion, covering the single use plastic regulations only. A further request, for a specific DRS exclusion, commenced in autumn 2022.