Scotland’s First Minister has announced that the Deposit Return Scheme will be delayed by 10 months and will now go live on 1 March 2024.

The First Minister confirmed his plans for the scheme during his address to the Scottish Parliament on 18 April. 

The DRS was set to be introduced on 16 August and was to require all drinks producers and retailers that sell single-use containers in Scotland to sign up for the scheme. A refundable £0.20 deposit was to apply to PET plastic, steel, aluminium or glass containers from 50ml to three litres in size.

Under the plans, consumers were able to return drinks containers to a number of shops and hospitality sites across Scotland. Circularity Scotland, claimed the DRS should stop 90% of recyclable products going to waste.

The scheme had proved controversial, with fears among small businesses that they lacked the resources to comply with the scheme. Before today’s announcement, drinks industry bodies had called on the Scottish government to enact a “grace period” of 18 months following the planned implementation date in August.

Speaking at Holyrood, Humza Yousaf said: “I remain committed to this Scheme as a way to increase recycling, to reduce litter on our streets and on our beaches and help achieve our net zero ambitions.

“But we recognise the uncertainty that continues to be created as a result of the UK Government delaying the decision to exclude the scheme from the Internal Market Act. We had hoped for a decision on that this week – but it has not come.

“At the same time, I – and the Circular Economy Minister – have heard the concerns of business, particularly about the scheme’s readiness for launch this August.

“As a result, we will now delay the launch of the scheme to the 1st of March 2024. This provides 10 months for businesses to get ready.

“We will use that additional time to work with businesses, and Circularity Scotland, to address concerns with the scheme and ensure a successful launch next year.

“We have also developed a package of measures to simplify and de-risk the scheme, and to support small businesses and hospitality in particular.

“The Circular Economy Minister will provide further details to Parliament this week on this package, of the new timetable, and our engagement with the UK Government over the critical decisions now that we need them to make to allow the scheme to proceed in terms of that exemption of the Internal Market Act.”