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Ministers outline Scottish DRS legislation

By 10/09/2019News

Scottish ministers have published draft legislation for the establishment of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in the country, with an expected start date of 1 April 2021.

As previously reported, Scotland’s DRS plans centre on an ‘all-in’ model which will include all PET plastic drinks bottles, aluminium and steel cans and glass bottles – with a deposit level set at 20p.

Scotland’s Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham returns a bottle to a reverse vending machine at Edinburgh Zoo
(Picture by Stewart Attwood)

The draft legislation was published today, and stakeholders have been given until 10 December 2019 to comment on the proposals.


The Scottish Government claims that there is broad support for its DRS plans, but concerns have been raised by the glass industry over the inclusion of the material in a deposit scheme, and how this could impact recycling rates for glass (see story).

It is believed that, while much of the material targeted through a DRS is captured through existing kerbside services, a DRS would help to boost capture rates and potentially improve the quality of material collected.

Primarily impacting retailers, businesses such as pubs and restaurants will be able to choose whether they apply the deposit, while online retailers will also be included in the scheme.

The legislation will allow non-retail spaces such as recycling centres, schools or other community hubs to act as return locations.

Bigger retailers with more space may install machines to both collect the bottles and cans and enable people to redeem deposits, while smaller retailers with less space have the option to return deposits over the counter, collecting the containers manually.


Under the legislation, producers will be required to collect a target percentage of the packaging they place onto the market in a calendar year, by collecting their own scheme packaging from retailers and return points, and accepting the return of their scheme packaging from wholesalers. Producers will reimburse deposits for any packaging returned or collected.

Commenting on the plans Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, said: “Our Deposit Return Scheme is the first national scheme of its type in the UK. It is ambitious in scale and scope, and gives the people of Scotland a clear and straightforward way to do their bit for the environment.

“Our Deposit Return Scheme is the first national scheme of its type in the UK. It is ambitious in scale and scope, and gives the people of Scotland a clear and straightforward way to do their bit for the environment.”

Roseanna Cunningham

“Research has shown that the scheme is anticipated to reduce the £46 million spent each year on litter removal and is expected to reduce emissions equivalent to taking 85,000 cars off our roads, while also enjoying widespread public support across Scotland.

“There is a global climate emergency which demands we show ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations. This process will enable us to fine tune our proposals to ensure that they work well for industry, retail and the public, and we will continue to work with the Implementation Advisory Group to that end. I am delighted to confirm that the regulations required to bring our Deposit Return Scheme into reality have now been laid.”


Iain Gulland, chief executive, Zero Waste Scotland, added: “These regulations put Scotland on track to deliver a world class deposit return scheme. Placing a 20p deposit on drinks bottles and cans shows that these materials have a value to our economy, and a cost to our climate if they are wasted.

“That 20p incentive will boost recycling and cut Scotland’s CO2e emissions, playing a part in the fightback against the climate emergency. It’s little wonder that nearly four in five Scots support it. With drinks producers given the opportunity to group together to deliver the scheme, they can lead this exciting step towards a more circular economy.”

Related Links
The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020: accompanying statement and proposed regulations

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