Deposit return scheme: gateway review report - March 2023

Evidence-based snapshot of the status of the Deposit and Return Scheme (DRS) for Scotland programme carried out by an independent review team in March 2023.

1.0 Gateway Review Conclusion

Delivery Confidence Assessment:



The Review Team finds that the delivery confidence assessment is Amber-Red in that major risks or issues are apparent in a number of key areas. However, this assessment is made against an observed broad perception of delivery schedules and scope. A single clear and agreed delivery scope and schedule is not shared and articulated by all Programme delivery stakeholders.

This is an ambitious and courageous programme that pioneers a new relationship between the public and private sector, enabling each to bring their expertise to deliver economic, environmental, and societal good. Given the scale of this ambition it would be imprudent to expect this new arrangement to work smoothly and at first attempt. Further, as just one, but central part of this ambition, the scheme administrator is being required to stand-up from nothing a major company with multi-sector interfaces in little more than two years; this in itself is a major challenge and it would be unreasonable to expect the organisation to have mature and robust operating systems and relationships.

Consequently, a progressive and evolutionary change is recommended with expectations set accordingly with the public, retailers, wholesalers, producers, and public leaders, and recognising that there will be implementation challenges regardless of when the system is introduced. With a more realistic, and agreed, delivery scope and schedule, the Programme delivery confidence could be considered much more favourable.

The Review also considers that Scotland is effectively trialling DRS for the other UK nations, exposing and resolving the many system issues inherent across all approaches; recognising this value in the planning, and support, of the Scottish and other programmes would be a greater benefit to all parties.


Regardless of addressing schedule options of most critical concern, very prompt attention is required to address weaknesses in whole Programme governance that will impact the Programme success in both the immediate and longer term. Further, certainty and clarity are urgently needed to maintain stakeholder cohesion and to build confidence.

The Delivery Confidence Assessment RAG status should use the definitions below.

RAG Criteria Description


Successful delivery of the programme to time, cost and quality appears highly likely and there are no major outstanding issues that at this stage appear to threaten delivery.


Successful delivery of the programme to time, cost and quality appears highly likely and there are no major outstanding issues that at this stage appear to threaten delivery.


Successful delivery appears feasible but significant issues already exist requiring management attention. These appear resolvable at this stage and, if addressed promptly, should not present a cost/schedule overrun.


Successful delivery of the programme is in doubt with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. Urgent action is needed to ensure these are addressed, and establish whether resolution is feasible.


Successful delivery of the programme appears to be unachievable. There are major issues which, at this stage, do not appear to be manageable or resolvable. The programme/project may need re-base lining and/or overall viability reassessed.



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