Homepage icon

Deposit Return Scheme to Go Live August 2023

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme will go live on 16 August 2023, Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater has announced in a statement to the Scottish Parliament.


An independent review had found that, due to the pandemic, the previous go-live date of July 2022 was no longer practical.

DRS infrastructure, such as reverse vending machines, will start rolling out in earnest from summer 2022 and, where possible, the Scottish Government will work with retailers to enable use of this infrastructure on a voluntary basis from November 2022.

The Minister confirmed that the design of the scheme remains unchanged and that the target of achieving 90% collection rates by 2025 will be maintained.

Zero Waste Scotland will continue to support the scheme towards implementation, and will work closely with the Scottish Government, Circularity Scotland and Orkney islands Council on a phased implementation of the scheme on the Orkney Islands, which will start this year.

It is still on course to be the first Deposit Return Scheme to be implemented in the UK.

You can read the full Scottish Government press release here.

The independent Gateway Review is available here.

At a glance

Whether you are a producer, retailer, wholesaler or work in hospitality, find out where to go for more information here.

How will it work?

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme has been designed to make it easy for us all to do the right thing. People pay a small deposit of 20p when they buy a drink in a single-use container and then get the deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can.

When will it start?

An independent Gateway Review into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the go-live date for Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme was announced by the Cabinet Secretary in March 2021.The review found that the previous go-live date of July 2022 was no longer practical and will now go live on 16 August 2023.

The Scottish Government approved a scheme administrator in March 2021 – Circularity Scotland Ltd - that will manage the logistics of the deposit return scheme.

Other parts of the regulations will come into effect before the scheme goes live, to make sure it is ready on day one.  

bottles icon

The benefits

Deposit return schemes are already established in many countries where they are helping to tackle climate change and reduce litter. Scotland is joining them, with a scheme designed to meet our unique needs, to tackle our throwaway culture and help protect our environment for generations to come.


Exemptions Application Service

With Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme going live in 2023, businesses should familiarise with any return point obligations they will have. 

Under some circumstances, businesses will be able to apply for an exemption. Find out more about what this means.

Voluntary Return Point

Under Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme regulations, all retailers who sell, to consumers on their premises, in-scope drinks for take away must operate a return point. 

Other organisations for example, transport hubs or shopping centres can apply to become a return point. We refer to these as voluntary return points. Find out more. 

reverse vending machine

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme will offer a range of benefits

The scheme has been designed to work for everyone in Scotland. It will improve recycling rates, increase the quality of recycling materials, and significantly reduce litter.

20p deposit on drinks containers

70+% of Scots want a Deposit Return Scheme

34,000 fewer plastic bottles littered every day

76,000 additional tonnes recycled each year

17,000+ return points nationwide

90% of containers included in the scheme will be captured for recycling

£62million a year could be saved tackling the indirect impacts of litter

4million tonnes of CO2eq emissions will be cut over 25 years

News and Blog posts

The latest press releases, news articles and blog posts on Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme.

Update - 17th November 2021

Today (17th November 2021) the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater, provided an update to the Scottish Parliament on Scotland’s forthcoming Deposit Return Scheme, which is currently due to go live in July 2022.