Drinks producers are being urged not to delay registering for Scotland’s landmark Deposit Return Scheme as the deadline fast approaches. 

The scheme is a first for the UK and puts Scotland on a path to a more circular economy by incentivising the return of bottles and cans and improving the quantity and quality of materials collected. By 2025 it will capture 90% of all drink containers included in the scheme, which is expected to provide 2 billion drink containers a year for recycling. 


The scheme applies to soft and alcoholic drinks sold in single-use containers between 50ml and 3 litres and made from PET, plastic, glass, aluminium and steel. All producers making or businesses importing these products for sale in Scotland are required to register with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) before 1 March 2023, either directly or via Circularity Scotland. The scheme will then go live on 16 August 2023, when producers will have to charge a 20p deposit on each container they place on the market and arrange for empties to be collected for recycling, meeting collection targets.  

Retailers, wholesalers and hospitality businesses in Scotland must also comply with the Deposit Return Scheme Regulations, though do not have to register with SEPA. Their obligations include only selling drinks from a registered producer and including the 20p deposit on each drink sold. They will also act as a return point, providing information on how customers can bring back their empty containers and receive a refund of the 20p deposit.    


Vicki White, Head of Materials at SEPA, said: “As Scotland’s environmental regulator, SEPA is firmly focused on helping businesses do the right thing for our planet, take responsibility and become more sustainable. 

“Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme supports a move away from a throwaway culture and gives producers a leading role in that behaviour change as they will be responsible for the environmental impacts of their products throughout their life cycle. This is a significant step towards developing a more circular economy.  

“We are here to help throughout this change and have lots of guidance available on the scheme, information on which drinks are part of it and help with creating operational plans. While we expect most businesses to register via Circularity Scotland, we stand ready to support those who wish to register directly with SEPA.” 


Registration is open now, with producers able to register via the scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland, or directly with SEPA. More information on how businesses can appoint Circularity Scotland to register with SEPA on their behalf can be found on their website.

Drinks producers that don’t sign-up before the 1 March 2023 deadline risk not being able to sell their products in Scotland. Any business concerned about being able to meet the registration deadline, or any other producer obligations, is encouraged to get in touch with SEPA or contact Circularity Scotland for advice and guidance.   

After the registration deadline, SEPA will publish and maintain a list of all producers who are registered to market and sell their drinks in Scotland. Retailers, wholesalers and hospitality businesses will be able to check this to ensure they only sell scheme approved products from registered producers. Once the scheme goes live in August 2023, SEPA will carry out audits, inspections and support producers to achieve compliance.   

More information on Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme and how to register can be found here