Deposit return scheme for Scotland: SEA

This strategic environmental assessment (SEA) post adoption statement details the environmental considerations that have gone into the design of the deposit return scheme for Scotland.

1. Introduction

1.1 The Deposit Return Scheme 

1.1.1 The Scottish Government’s Programme for Scotland 17-18[1] stated the government’s intention to implement a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for Scotland on selected single-use drinks containers.

1.1.2 A DRS is a scheme where consumers pay a deposit in addition to the purchase price at point of sale; this deposit is then returned to them if they choose to return the item after use for recycling. In the case of drinks, the deposit is paid for the container, and consumers can then return the container to a designated return point to recoup their deposit.  The use of DRS usually relates to products and materials which are of potential value for reuse, recycling or recovery, or which, if mismanaged, may have detrimental effects on the environment.

1.1.3 Zero Waste Scotland, acting on behalf of the Scottish Government, is supporting development of the DRS for Scotland.  Work has included completing a Strategic Outline Case, an Outline Business Case, Full Business Case and a number of impact assessments.

1.1.4 Scotland’s DRS is comprised of 12 components, which are described in detail in the Full Business Case Stage 1 using the following diagram:

Diagram: Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme

1.1.5 There are myriad ways in which these components may be applied to produce a DRS, however an optimal configuration is required to ensure the Scottish DRS achieves its objectives and delivers maximum benefit. To help inform the public consultation process on DRS and identify an optimal configuration of the twelve components, Zero Waste Scotland developed four example schemes.  These examples were not proposed as alternative options for Scotland but rather, were put forth to illustrate how different configurations of key components can affect performance.  The four example schemes developed by ZWS are summarised in Table 1.1.

Table 1.1: Example DRS considered

Example Schemes

Materials Collected

Means of Collection

Example 1:

Take back to dedicated points

PET bottles, steel and aluminium cans, and glass bottles

This example scheme would see 1,058 deposit return points being placed in towns with a population of at least 1,000 to receive the returned containers.  It is envisaged that the return process would be automated.

Example 2:

Take back to dedicated points and some shops (with cartons and cups)

PET bottles, steel and aluminium cans, glass bottles, HDPE bottles, drink cartons and single-use paper based cups

This example scheme would have 2,009 return points placed within a set distance of any shop selling drinks in containers, some of which would be expected to be in shops.  It is envisaged that the return process would be automated.

Example 3:

Take back to any place of purchase

PET bottles, steel and aluminium cans, and glass bottles

This example scheme would require any retailer that sells drinks in disposable containers to act as a return location, providing a deposit return service for all DRS containers.  There are around 17,400 retailers across Scotland.

It is envisaged that there would be a combination of automatic and manual returns.

Example 4:

Take back to any place of purchase (with cartons and cups)

PET bottles, steel and aluminium cans, glass bottles, HDPE bottles, drink cartons and single-use paper based cups

The means of collection for this example scheme would be similar to example 3, but would cover a wider range of materials.

1.1.6 Extensive modelling was completed to support analysis of these example schemes.  The results, and supporting assessments were issued for a three-month public consultation.

1.1.7 Taking into account the consultation responses and further modelling and analysis, the Scottish Government has identified a preferred option which it is now taking forward.  This will be a ‘return to retail’ model, focussed on the collection of PET bottles, steel and aluminium cans and glass bottles, with a deposit of 20p per container, and requiring full cost recovery from producers.  

1.1.8 The DRS was screened against the requirements of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 and it was identified that, as it is likely to have significant environmental effects, a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was required.  The SEA was carried out to assess the likely significant environmental effects of the example schemes and to identify ways in which adverse effects could be avoided, minimised or mitigated.  The SEA also explored how any positive effects could be enhanced.  The findings were presented in an Environmental Report[2] (ER).

1.2 Consultation

1.2.1 The SEA was undertaken to both inform the decision-making process in the development of the DRS and to engage with the statutory consultees[3] and other stakeholders and interested parties via the statutory public consultation process set out in the 2005 Act.

1.2.2 Consultation with the statutory consultees was undertaken on the proposed scope of SEA for a five-week period concluding 1st May 2018.  Each consultee was provided with the DRS SEA Screening and Scoping Report[4]; issued by Zero Waste Scotland, and comments were invited.  Consultation responses were received from all three statutory consultees.

1.2.3 A public consultation was held from 27 June 2018 to 25 September 2018[5], to obtain the opinion of public individuals and organisations on the proposed scheme, the design of any DRS and the options considered and the possible impacts of such a scheme.  Views were obtained through the completion of a questionnaire (which was also embedded within the DRS consultation document[6]).  The consultation documentation also included the Environmental Report along with a Partial Business Regulatory Impact Assessment, a Scottish Firms Impact Test, an Equality Impact Assessment, a Strategic Outline Case and an Outline Business Case.

1.2.4 The public consultation process revealed strong support for a Scottish DRS, and a firm belief that it will support Scotland’s wider environmental and climate change objectives.  A common concern expressed by respondents was that the DRS be designed to ensure maximum participation and accessibility as this is required to achieve the greatest possible material capture rates, and environmental benefits.  This point is confirmed by modelling work, has been considered throughout the scheme design process, and is reflected in the preferred DRS option. Table 1.2 details the timeline of the SEA consultation documents for the DRS.

Table 1.2: Consultation stages and timeline for the DRS SEA


Date of Publication/Period

Scoping Report

27th March 2018 to 1st May 2018

Environmental Report

27th June 2018 to 25th September 2018

Consultation period

27th June 2018 to 25th September 2018

Publication of preferred DRS

8th May 2019

1.3 Purpose of this Post Adoption Statement

1.3.1 In accordance with Section 17 of the 2005 Act, the Scottish Government has taken into account findings of the Environmental Report and the consultation responses to the report in coming to its decision on the preferred option for the DRS.

1.3.2 Section 18 of the 2005 Act requires that when a plan or programme is adopted (in this case, the DRS), the consultation bodies and the public are informed and the following specific information is made available:

  • the plan as adopted;
  • a statement summarising:

(i) how environmental considerations have been integrated into the DRS (Section 18(3)a of the 2005 Act);
(ii) how the Environmental Report has been taken into account (Section 18(3)b);
(iii) how consultees opinions have been taken into account (Section 18(3)c and d);
(iv) the reasons for choosing the DRS, as adopted, in the light of the other reasonable alternatives considered; and
(v) the measures to be used to monitor the significant environmental effects of the implementation of the DRS (Section 18(3)e).

1.3.3 The purpose of this Post Adoption Statement is to provide the specific information outlined under each of the points listed (i) to (v) above and which is presented in the following sections of this statement.



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