Deposit return scheme delayed until 2023


THE implementation of the deposit return scheme, which aims to boost recycling rates in Scotland, has been delayed by a further year until 2023.

The Scottish Government said the initiative, which was originally slated to begin in April 2021 before being pushed back to July 2022, will now come into force on 16th August 2023.

Under the scheme, consumers will be charged a 20p deposit by retailers when they buy a drink in a metal can or plastic or glass bottle, and get their money back when they return the container to the retailer to be recycled.

Operators of bars and restaurants which sell drinks for consumption ‘on-site’ will be able to choose whether to charge the 20p deposit to customers and then reimburse it as the container won’t leave the premises.

Many are expected to not charge the deposit (only to refund it when customers finish their drinks), meaning they will not be required to operate a return point for empty containers from outside their own business but will be responsible for collecting empty containers sold on-site which will then be collected by scheme administrator Circularity Scotland.

Those operators not charging consumers the deposit will pay the 20p container deposit to their wholesaler, and will then get it back when empty bottles and cans are returned to the scheme.

Businesses which sell “any in-scope drinks to be taken away” will be required to charge the deposit and operate a return point.

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), which is a founder member of DRS administrator Circularity Scotland, gave cautious welcome to the latest delay in the implementation of the scheme.

“There are still a significant number of challenges which will need to be overcome between now and introduction, as well as significant additional costs for producers, retailers and customers which the pandemic has worsened,” said SBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin.

“There is also a tremendous amount of infrastructure required to deliver a scheme of this magnitude and it is imperative we get it right.

“Giving industry and the scheme administrator this additional time was the only workable option and we’re pleased the Scottish Government have listened.”