Homepage 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 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 or someone selling drinks in single-use containers that are filled and sealed at point of sale (e.g. a crowler.

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 2023. For more information, visit SEPA’s website.

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

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.

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 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:

  • 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 them to discharge obligations on your behalf

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. By 2025, the scheme will capture 90% of all containers included in the scheme for recycling.

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

This fee will vary according to the size of the businesses:

There will be no registration fee for:

  • producers with an annual turnover of £85,000 or lower;
  • producers that only fill and seal single-use drink containers at point of sale (e.g. crowlers).

For all other producers, the registration fee will be £365.

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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. As deposits only apply to single use containers, reusable glass milk bottle schemes will not 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 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.

What happens if producers do not fulfil their obligations?

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.