Making it work

The administrator(s) of the scheme will be responsible for its day-to-day management.

Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans creates new obligations for drinks producers. Most drinks producers are likely to nominate a scheme administrator to fulfil these on their behalf. 

It is anticipated that producers will pay a small fee – one that depends on the number of containers they put on the market – to help fund this service. 

Scheme administrator(s) will be the key contact for retailers and hospitality businesses, collecting returned cans and empty bottles. They will also pay the handling fee and reimburse return points for the deposits they refund.

Scheme administrator(s) make key decisions on fees, payment terms and collection services and communicate these to producers, retailers and other affected businesses. You can find out how to apply on the Scottish Government website. 

Putting industry in charge

A scheme administrator(s), which is expected to be an industry-led, privately owned and not-for-profit private-sector enterprise will run the scheme. The scheme will be regulated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). 

Deposit return extends producer responsibility. Producers now have significant obligations – financial and physical – for the treatment and disposal of post-consumer products. 


Applying to be a scheme administrator

Now that the scheme is law, applications to form a scheme administrator are open to interested parties. Details on how to apply to become a scheme administrator are available on the Scottish Government website

Anyone can apply. However, a prospective scheme administrator has to:

  • Provide evidence that is likely to exist for at least five years 
  • Provide a plan setting out how it will comply with its obligations 

These obligations include: 

  • Collecting in-scope containers from return points, online collection operations and hospitality premises 
  • Refunding the deposit and paying a handling fee for each scheme container collected 
  • Meeting the minimum collection target for the operational year 
  • Collecting and keeping information on the number of containers placed on the market and returned to the scheme

A full list of obligations is found in in the regulations. 

Any potential scheme administrator will have to demonstrate how it can service the entire country, including Scotland's Islands.


Learning from experience

Producers and retailers told us, through the Scottish Government consultation on deposit return, that this type of scheme is their preferred option.

A privately owned, non-for-profit scheme administrator is the most common option adopted by recent schemes internationally. It minimises costs and achieves high rates of recycling.  

Examples of this approach include Returpack in Sweden and Infinitum in Norway. 


Funding the scheme

The scheme is expected to be paid for through three sources of funding. These are unredeemed deposits, revenue from the sale of material and the producer fees. 

Unredeemed deposits

Some containers will not be returned because the consumer recycles or disposes of them elsewhere.  

Revenue from the sale of materials

There is a strong demand from reprocessors for high-quality PET, glass, aluminium and steel.

Producer fees

Producers will likely pay a fee on every item placed on the market, covering the costs of collecting and recycling drinks containers. This will be paid to scheme administrator(s).


Handling Fee

Scheme administrator(s) will pay a handling fee to return points, operators of take-back services and hospitality businesses. 

This fee covers the equipment, infrastructure, materials, staff time and other costs associated with the scheme. 

For more information on how this will be calculated for your business, see the Retailer and Hospitality pages. 

To understand how money flows through the scheme, see the Cash flow page.

Regulating the scheme

The administrator(s) of the scheme will be regulated to make sure that they meet the environmental targets in the regulations and deliver a quality service to retailers and others.

SEPA is the enforcement agency for all offences under the regulations. Its enforcement powers include being able to question the staff of producers, operators and administrators, to request documents and to make test purchases.

Need more info?

  • Drinks producers can find more information about their obligations on our Producer page
  • Retailers can find more information about how to get ready for the scheme on our Retailer page
  • Hospitality businesses can find more information about their role on our Hospitality page

Detailed questions on payment and collection services and the levels of the producer and handling fees will be answered by the scheme administrators. 

Have a question?

Go to Frequently Asked Questions