Environmental campaigners are dismayed by the news that Scotland’s deposit return scheme, which was due to launch in August 2023, has been delayed until next year.

The deposit return scheme has already been delayed twice, with its initial launch date set for April 2021. The latest postponement will mean that 2.5 billion more drinks containers will have been littered, landfilled or incinerated than if it had gone ahead as planned.  

Hundreds of Scottish producers and businesses, accounting for over 95% of Scottish drinks containers, have already registered to take part in the scheme from August and completed the necessary preparation to do so, including the biggest producers of single use drinks cans in the country.

Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“This delay marks a shameful breaking of promises which will ultimately be paid for by the people of Scotland and the environment. Over 70% of people in Scotland support the deposit return scheme, but the First Minister has decided to put corporate interests and politics before people and the planet. 

“The repeated delays by the Scottish Government to deliver this scheme are as damaging as doing nothing. Companies have had five years to prepare, and the majority of them are ready to go as planned in August.

“We are living in a climate emergency, and this simple scheme should be an exciting bit of progress. It’s a concerning start to Humza Yousaf’s leadership.”

Dr Kat Jones, director of APRS, which is running the Have You Got The Bottle? campaign, said: 

“Yet another delay to Scotland’s deposit return system should send a chill down the spine of everyone who understands the environmental crisis we face. Both the Scottish and UK governments need to get their act together if a third delay is not to become a fourth or worse.”

Calum Duncan, head of conservation Scotland at Marine Conservation Society, said:

“Bottles and cans were littered on 95% of Scottish beaches cleaned and surveyed by our volunteers in 2022. We’re disappointed that, yet again, Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme will be delayed.

“We know deposit return schemes have huge potential to turn the tide on this kind of pollution, for the benefit of both people and the planet. Scotland’s seas cannot, and should not, be paying the price for our waste.”

The deposit return scheme will work by people paying a fully refundable 20p deposit when they buy a drink in a single-use container made of plastic, metal or glass.