Deposit return scheme

We are seeking to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers which, if realised, will be the first in the UK.

A deposit return scheme would help to reduce litter and improve recycling rates, representing a significant step towards achieving our zero waste ambition.

From 27 June to 25 September 2018 we ran a consultation, A deposit return scheme for Scotland, to seek views on which options will deliver the best results. 

See the consultation summary

With the deposit return scheme, we aim to:

  • increase the quantity of target materials captured for recycling
  • improve the quality of material captured, to allow for high-value recycling
  • encourage wider behaviour changes in the uses of materials
  • deliver the maximum economic and social benefit for Scotland

We have supported Zero Waste Scotland to design a scheme that it is tailored to meet Scotland's specific needs.

Zero Waste Scotland has worked closely with a range of stakeholders to ensure an evidence-based approach, and carefully considered equalities and social justice issues on which the scheme may have an impact.

The Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform announced the scheme design in Parliament on 8 May 2019. Details of the proposal and the supporting work can be found in the Stage 1 Full Business Case.

Deposit Return Scheme Implementation Advisory Group

We have set up the Deposit Return Scheme Implementation Advisory Group to provide industry experience and advice on practical issues relating to the operation of the scheme.

Draft regulations

Regulations for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme for drinks cans and bottles have been published in the Scottish Parliament. It’s expected the scheme will become law in 2020, with the intention of a scheme going live in 2021. The Regulations are now available for review and comment until 10 December 2019.

You can find more information on the approach in the Regulations and background to deposit return in Scotland on Zero Waste Scotland’s website.