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Overview of the Regulations

The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020 set out the legal requirements for drinks producers and retailers as part of the scheme.

Scheme Containers

The regulations: 

Prohibit marketing or sale of drinks in scheme containers to consumers, if the producer is not registered with SEPA. Producers are: either the brand owner (for products branded in the UK) or the importer (for products branded outside the UK) or someone selling drinks in single-use containers that are filled and sealed at point of sale (e.g. a crowler).

Require that a 20p deposit is charged each time one of those single-use drinks containers is sold in Scotland. The seller must also make clear the packaging can be returned in exchange for getting the deposit back. These obligations do not apply to products sold in export (duty-free) shops or to hospitality premises that sell drinks exclusively for on-site consumption. They also do not apply to sales to consumers outside Scotland.    

Require producers to collect the annual target percentage of scheme packaging they place on the market by collecting their own scheme packaging from retailers and return points and accepting it back from wholesalers. Producers will reimburse deposits for any packaging returned or collected. 

Allow producers to appoint a scheme administrator to meet the above obligations on their behalf. Anyone seeking to act as a scheme administrator must be approved by Scottish Ministers. 

Require retailers to operate a return point where sales of scheme products are made. This involves accepting (subject to certain exceptions) packaging returned by consumers, giving back deposits for the packaging and storing the packaging for collection by/on behalf of producers. 

Establish the criteria for exemptions and voluntary return points.  Scottish Ministers may exempt a retailer from acting as a return point and may approve any other person who wishes to act as a return point, if certain criteria are met. 

Require retailers making distance sales to provide takeback services. For example, online grocery sales and delivery services will be required to collect scheme containers from the site of delivery to consumers who have purchased those items. 

Key Dates

8 May 2019 – Scheme design announced  

10 September 2019 – Regulations for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme pre-laid in Scottish Parliament and published on the Scottish Government website.  

16 March 2020 – Final regulations laid in the Scottish Parliament  

13 May 2020 – Scottish Parliament voted to approve the final regulations for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme Legislation

22 June 2020 – Scottish Government publishes details on how to apply to become a scheme administrator  

1 January 2023 – Producers can register with SEPA 

16 August 2023  – Scheme goes live for consumers  

More Information

You can read more about specific aspects of the regulations and how the scheme will work in our comprehensive FAQs, and on our sector pages.