Homepage Essentials Information for Producers

Getting Ready for Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme

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 to manage the collection and recycling of the containers in which drinks are sold. It's an idea that's popular with the public and will help address customer concerns regarding waste. 

The ambition is to have the required regulations in place by April 2020, after which at least one year of preparation time will be granted to make sure organisations and the public have time to prepare for the changes. It's important that, as drinks producers you begin to familiarise yourselves with the obligations you'll have, and prepare to meet them, so you're ready when the scheme comes into place. 

What you need to know

As producers, you will be legally responsible for the collection and recycling of the packaging that contain drinks. Producers are companies which own any brand of drink in containers that are included in the deposit return scheme, and that are sold in Scotland. 

You can either discharge your obligations directly or nominate a scheme administrator to fulfil these obligations on your behalf. Such a central body, or bodies, would be able to concentrate solely on management of the Deposit Return Scheme and meeting the targets for recycling.

Under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, Scottish Ministers can approve an application to become a scheme administrator to run deposit return in Scotland. A scheme administrator will have responsibility for ensuring that Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme operates smoothly from day one, which includes ensuring the efficient and correct flow of money and containers through the system.

Producers will pay a fee on every item placed on the market. This will cover the costs of collecting and recycling drinks containers and it will be paid to the scheme administrator.

Producers will pay a fee on every item placed on the market

This will cover the costs of collecting and recycling drinks containers and it will be paid to the scheme administrator. 


Product Journey

Designing your packaging

The regulations do not include specific requirements to add new labelling to packaging sold in Scotland. In order to minimise the opportunities for fraud and to make it clear to consumers that containers are part of the Deposit Return Scheme, a scheme administrator may require containers registered with them to carry an identifying marker. 

Each producer will weigh up the cost-benefit of adding an identifying marker based on the quantity of containers you place on the market versus the risk of fraud. 

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.

Any such variable producer fee would be paid per container and reflect the increased risk of fraud for containers that don't have label unique to deposit return scheme. 


Putting your products on the market

The following assumes that a scheme administrator is in place. If you as a producer choose to fulfil your obligations without a scheme administrator, then you will have different and additional responsibilities. These are detailed in the draft legislation.

When selling products direct to a retailer or wholesaler, you will be required to: 

  • Pay a 20p deposit to the scheme administrator for each scheme container destined for sale in Scotland
  • Register with SEPA or apply for registration via the scheme administrator within 28 days of receiving notification in writing in accordance with the regulations 
  • Maintain a record of the number of each type of container you have placed onto the Scottish market 
  • Supply any information reasonably requested by the scheme administrator that will allow the discharge of obligations on your behalf 


Collecting your empty containers

Any scheme administrator will be responsible for collecting your empty bottles and cans from return points. 

They will have to submit an operational plan to the Scottish Government and will be expected to show how they fulfil those obligations.

The regulations will also set out legally binding collection targets for the scheme which are as follows:

  • In year 1, 70% of the bottles and cans placed on the market will be collected
  • In year 2, 80% of the bottles and cans placed on the market will be collected 
  • In year 3 (and from then on), 90% of the bottles and cans placed on the market will be collected

The 90% target is for the overall number of containers collected by the scheme

The collection rate for each material type must not be lower than 85%

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Paying the administration fee

All drinks producers must be registered with SEPA, either directly or through a scheme administrator.

You will also pay an annual fee to the scheme administrator or SEPA to cover the costs of your registration.

The draft regulations, which are currently open for consultation, state this annual fee to be £209 per producer or brand owner.

The Scottish Government is actively exploring resolutions for the specific issues raised by small producers, such as the flat fee.

Download our small producer briefing below. 

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More Information

Which products are affected by the scheme?

All drinks, including soft drinks and alcoholic drinks, are included in the scheme if made from the following materials:

  • PET plastic – e.g. most bottled water and many fizzy drinks
  • Steel and aluminium – e.g. many fizzy drinks and canned beer
  • Glass – e.g. bottles of wine or premium soft drinks

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.

How will this align with plans for DRS elsewhere?

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.

What is a scheme administrator?

Drinks producers can fulfil their obligations through a 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 a scheme administrator once the regulations have been approved by the Scottish Parliament.

What happens if producers do not fulfil their obligations?

Under the draft legislation, it will be an offence to:

  • sell in-scope container products in Scotland without being registered with SEPA.
  • 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 a scheme administrator to fail to fulfil the obligations of producers that it’s acting on behalf of.

Have a question?

Go to Frequently Asked Questions

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