Making it work

The scheme administrator (Circularity Scotland Ltd) of the scheme will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the scheme.

Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans creates new obligations for drinks producers. Most drinks producers are likely to nominate the 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. 

The scheme administrator 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.

The scheme administrator will make key decisions on fees, payment terms and collection services and communicate these to producers, retailers and other affected businesses. 

Putting industry in charge

The scheme administrator (Circularity Scotland Ltd) is an industry-led, privately owned and not-for-profit private-sector enterprise and is responsible for running 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. 

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

The scheme administrator 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 scheme administrator 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.  Enquiries can be submitted via their website: