Homepage Scheme Design Regulations
Icon of bottles

Overview of the Regulations

The scheme is expected to become law early next year. SEPA will regulate the scheme.


Under the regulations, producers must:

  • Register with SEPA by 1st March each year for their drinks to be sold in Scotland. SEPA will hold a list of registered producers.
  • Ensure they include a deposit in the sale price of products sold in scheme packaging.
  • Provide information about their products to SEPA as required.
  • Collect scheme containers from retailers and other return points for recycling.
  • Reimburse retailers for the deposit value of containers collected and pay an additional “reasonable” handling fee per container if one is charged.
  • Meet annual collection targets for recycling

Producers can appoint a scheme administrator to discharge the majority of these duties on their behalf. A scheme administrator must be approved by the Scottish Ministers before it can operate as such.


For the purposes of the scheme, a retailer is a person who sells drinks in scheme packaging, including through shops, hospitality businesses, vending machines and distance or online sales. The way in which the retailer sells the goods will impact on their obligations under the scheme.

All retailers operating a shop from which they sell drinks in scheme containers to be taken away will automatically be required to operate a return point, unless granted an exemption. Retailers also include public sector and local authority organisations which sell drinks to take away.

Under the regulations, retailers must:

  • Ensure they aren’t selling drinks containers from producers not registered with SEPA
  • Include the deposit in the price (unless the drink is being sold for on-site consumption), and make it clear the container is part of the scheme.
  • Display the deposit value clearly as separate from the product price.
  • All return points must accept containers, and refund deposits to customers.
  • They must keep containers for collection by producers (or scheme administrator(s) acting on their behalf).
  • Distance sellers must provide a free take-back service to customers.

Any non-retailers, including voluntary organisations or public organisations, can apply to become return points.

Return Point Exemptions

Applications for exemptions will be considered by Scottish Ministers. For example, a retailer could be granted an exemption from having to operate a return point from their premises if there is an alternative return point of equal convenience available nearby that has agreed to accept scheme containers on their behalf.

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.
  • Spring 2020 – Legislation passes with final implementation date included.

Scheme containers

We refer to any drink container that is eligible to carry a deposit as a "scheme container". You may also see these referred to as "scheme articles", "single-use containers" or "bottles and cans".

How to feedback

The Regulations for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme are available on the Scottish Government’s website. A consultation on the regulations has also been published here, to which responses are invited. The closing date for comments on the Regulations is 10 December 2019.

You can read more about specific aspects of the Regulations and how the scheme will work in our comprehensive FAQs

Have a question?

Go to Frequently Asked Questions

Icon of bottles