Environmental campaigners have said that Scotland’s deposit return scheme should be delivered without any more unnecessary delay. After 5 years of planning, Scotland’s deposit return scheme is due to launch on 16 August 2023.

With the UK Government recently announcing its plans for DRS in England and Wales and calls for more clarity from the industry led scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland, there have been calls to delay Scottish plans.  

The deposit return scheme will work by people paying a 20p deposit when they buy a drink in a single-use container made of plastic, metal or glass. When the containers are returned, this provides a guaranteed source of high-quality materials for recycling. The scheme also makes sure producers take full financial and environmental responsibility for the proper collection of their packaging. The Scottish Government has engaged with businesses of all sizes and addressed many of their concerns throughout the development of the scheme.

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

“Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme must start on time in August 2023. Businesses in Scotland have had five years to prepare for DRS and many of them will already be familiar with how these schemes operate in other countries. It’s time for Circularity Scotland, the industry-led scheme administrator, to deliver the planned DRS to the people of Scotland without delay.

“While it is encouraging that the UK Government has committed to its own scheme, it should not be seeking to slow down environmental progress in the devolved nations. Politicians should be seizing this opportunity to take urgent action to combat waste and move to a more circular economy. 

“Suggestions that DRS will cost consumers are irresponsible – like existing deposit return schemes in other countries, it will be simple for customers to claim their 20p deposit back from any shop participating in the scheme.”

Dr Kat Jones, Director of APRS, which has been running the Have You Got The Bottle? campaign since 2014, said:

“We have seen the support among the Scottish public for deposit return since the outset of the campaign. This scheme works well in other countries where it has reduced the litter we see in our towns and countryside, cut carbon emissions, and resulted in savings for local authorities. However, the scheme has been delayed twice in response to industry foot dragging.

“We are all trying to do our bit to reduce waste, but the onus should be on the large companies creating the issue. Deposit return schemes work to shift responsibility for waste back to the companies creating it and away from the environment and society. We need industry to work with the Scottish Government in order to create a scheme that works for businesses, communities, and the environment.”

Catherine Gemmell, Scotland Conservation Officer for the Marine Conservation Society said:

“Scotland’s seas cannot, and should not, be paying the price for our waste. Marine Conservation Society volunteers have been picking up cans and bottles for decades on beaches, but we need to put a stop to them getting there in the first place. During last year’s Great British Beach Clean, 93% of Scottish beaches surveyed found drinks-related litter. We know Deposit Return Schemes have huge potential to turn the tide on this kind of pollution. Circularity Scotland need to implement the Scheme in August, for the benefit of both people and planet.”

Notes to Editors

Scottish Government DRS statement https://www.gov.scot/news/scotlands-deposit-return-scheme/

The Scottish Government’s DRS delivery milestones are:

  • By March 2022, Circularity Scotland will have signed contracts with partners to deliver its logistics, operations and IT systems
  • By August 2022, the public awareness campaign will be launched and counting and sorting centres will start to be built
  • Retailers will start rolling out the return infrastructure in earnest from next summer and we are working with them to start using that infrastructure on a voluntary basis from November 2022.
  • Orkney will see a community-run return scheme operating in November 2022.
  • In January 2023, Circularity Scotland and SEPA will begin the process to register producers
  • In July 2023, there will be end-to-end testing of containers through the system

Circularity Scotland website: https://circularityscotland.com

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.

APRS (The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland) is Scotland’s countryside charity. The charity campaigns to promote, enhance and protect Scotland’s countryside and rural landscapes for everyone’s benefit, and support others to do the same. They have been running the Have You Got the Bottle? campaign since 2014, advocating for a successful and comprehensive deposit return scheme for Scotland. https://aprs.scot/

The Marine Conservation Society is the UK’s leading ocean charity, fighting for cleaner, better-protected, healthier seas. The charity works to highlight the importance of our ocean, and the life within it, through working with government, industry and education, to take action to restore and protect the marine environment. The charity has run a dedicated Scotland programme from its Edinburgh office, established in April 2000. https://www.mcsuk.org/