Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme will be delayed for a second time until 16th August 2023, an additional 13 month delay. The Scottish Government has published a delivery plan but risks around VAT and commitment from stakeholders are still challenges that need to be tackled to ensure there are no further delays. 

The Scottish Government delayed the DRS start date again after little progress was made since the last delay was announced in May 2021. Instead of a working scheme operational in April 2021, Scots will now have to wait until August 2023. 

The delivery plan put some concessions in place to reduce the environmental impact of the delay, such as bringing forward the legal requirement to collect at least 90% of eligible containers in the second year of the scheme, rather than the third. A set of milestones has been published by which progress can now be measured, including a community-run return scheme in Orkney to be operating by November 2022.

The Scottish Government acknowledged that challenges still remain: the complexities of a VAT charge have yet to be agreed with HM Treasury and trust in the prominent role that producers and retailers are playing in the scheme is low. The scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland, is organised and run by the private sector and must bear some responsibility for the delays to date. Brexit and the pandemic, cited as the cause of the second delay, remain hurdles for DRS delivery.

Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “The delay to Scotland’s DRS is not unexpected but it is disappointing. The Scottish Government must learn from it’s mistakes to make sure the same problems don’t persist and result in even further delays to the scheme. Challenges cannot be left to lie – producers and retailers must be held to account, and more transparency is required. The proof will be in the delivery.”

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


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.