Information for Producers
Drinks producers will be responsible for making sure the bottles and cans their drinks come in are collected for recycling
Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans will give drinks producers a vital role in Scotland's response to the climate emergency.
Drinks producers will have a legal responsibility for the collection and management of drinks containers covered by the scheme. It's an idea that's popular with the public and will help address customer concerns regarding waste.
The regulations for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme were passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2020. The scheme will go live for consumers on 16 August 2023, although elements of the regulations will come into force before then.
As producers, you will be legally responsible for the collection and management of drinks containers in preparation for recycling. For products branded in the UK, the producer is defined as the owner of the brand. For products which are imported into the UK, the producer is defined as the importer.
You can either discharge your obligations directly or nominate the scheme administrator to fulfil these obligations on your behalf. The scheme administrator will be able to concentrate solely on management of the scheme and meeting the targets for collection.
SEPA will begin registering drinks producers from 1 January 2022.
The scheme administrator will have responsibility for ensuring that the scheme operates smoothly from day one, including the efficient and correct flow of money and containers.
The producer fee
Drinks producers that choose to fulfil their obligations through the scheme administrator will likely to be asked to pay a small fee for each container they place on the market. This will cover the costs of collecting and managing your containers for recycling.
This will cover the costs of collecting and recycling drinks containers and it will be paid to the scheme administrator.
Designing your packaging
The regulations don't require you to add new labelling to packaging sold in Scotland. However, the scheme administrator may set out anti-fraud measures.
If it doesn't make commercial or financial sense to change your labelling, you may have other options. For example, other European schemes use a secondary adhesive label or set a variable producer fee for smaller producers.
In those circumstances, any variable producer fee would be paid per container and reflect the increased risk of fraud for containers that don't have specific labels for scheme containers.
Putting your products on the market
The following assumes that a scheme administrator is in place.
When selling products direct to a retailer or wholesaler, you will be required to:
If you as a producer choose to fulfil your obligations without the scheme administrator, then you will have different and additional responsibilities. These are detailed in the final regulations.
Collecting your empty containers
The scheme administrator will be responsible for collecting your empty bottles and cans from return points.
The regulations set out legally binding collection targets for the bottles and cans in the scheme. These are:
The collection rate for each material type must not be lower than 85%
Paying the administration fee
All drinks producers must be registered with SEPA, either directly or through the scheme administrator.
You will also pay an annual fee to the scheme administrator to cover the costs of your SEPA registration.
This fee will vary according to the size of the businesses:
You can find out more about cash flow here.
Download our small producer briefing below.
All drinks, including soft drinks and alcoholic drinks, are included in the scheme if made from the following materials:
Only containers between 50 ml and 3 litres in size are included. No other type of container is included. The exclusion of HDPE plastic (which is used for most milk bottles) means that very few dairy items will be included in the scheme. However, milk or milk-related products contained in PET and glass bottles or cans will be included. As deposits only apply to single use containers, reusable glass milk bottle schemes will not be included.
A public consultation on proposals to establish a deposit return scheme for England, Wales and Northern Ireland ran from February to May 2019.
Specific details, including the material and drinks to be included in scope, will be developed further and presented in a second consultation in 2020, with a potential start date of 2023.
The Scottish Government has said it is open to working with the other administrations on DRS. However, they have also stated this must be on the basis that their level of ambition matches that of Scotland’s.
Drinks producers can fulfil their obligations through the scheme administrator.
By paying a small fee for each container placed on the Scottish market, you can have your obligations fulfilled on your behalf.
Producers will be invited to express interest in registering with the scheme administrator once the regulations have been approved by the Scottish Parliament.
SEPA will be the enforcement authority. They will work with producers to support compliance and will have a range of enforcement measures open to them where it is clear a producer has failed to meet their obligations.
It will be an offence to:
sell in-scope container products in Scotland without being registered with SEPA and without those products being put on the market for consumption in Scotland
fail to fulfil producer obligations, provide SEPA with incorrect information, or fail to inform SEPA of a material change in circumstances
It will also be an offence for the scheme administrator to fail to fulfil the obligations of producers that it’s acting on behalf of.