Managing waste

Deposit return scheme

We are committed to introducing a deposit return scheme (DRS) for single-use drinks containers in Scotland. This will help increase recycling, reduce litter and meet our climate change targets. 

Timescales for the scheme 

We have announced plans to delay the launch of the scheme until October 2025 at the earliest. This is when other nations in the UK plan to launch  their schemes. 

Benefits of a deposit return scheme 

The scheme, which was designed alongside Zero Waste Scotland, is expected to: 

  • reduce littering by a third 
  • increase recycling of single-use drinks containers to 90% 
  • reduce carbon emissions by 4 million tonnes over 25 years – the equivalent of taking 83,000 cars off the road 

Developing the deposit return scheme 

We published a full business case setting out details of the proposed deposit return scheme in May 2019. This followed a public consultation in 2018.  

The policy was then developed with support from The Deposit Return Scheme Implementation Advisory Group. Group members provided industry experience and advice on practical issues relating to the operation of the scheme. 

The following documents outline the DRS development process: 

Legal framework 

The legal framework for the scheme was created by the Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020, which were passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2020.  

We laid the draft Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland (Miscellaneous Amendment) Regulations 2023 in the Scottish Parliament on 30 June 2023. If passed, this will delay the launch date of DRS until 1 October 2025. 

This followed a package of measures announced in April 2023 to support small producers and hospitality businesses. These changes were made by the Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Amendment Regulations 2023 which were passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2023. 

Independent reviews 

A number of independent reviews have been conducted into DRS since 2021:  

Further information 

You can read further information about the deposit return scheme on the Zero Waste Scotland website. 

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